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July 16, 2021

Acquisition: Rosie Lee Tompkins

Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins; qulted by Irene Bankhead; Untitled (framed half-squares four patch)

Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins; qulted by Irene Bankhead
Untitled (framed half-squares four patch), 1989 (pieced); 1990 (quilted)
corduroy and velveteen
overall: 243.84 x 182.88 cm (96 x 72 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Stephanie Soldner and Garrett Sullivan Family

Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936–2006) was a celebrated artist who created irregularly shaped quilt tops that she valued for their visual and spiritual qualities rather than their functional qualities. The National Gallery has recently been given two outstanding examples of Tompkins's quilts, one from Anthony and Celeste Meier and another from Stephanie Soldner and the Garrett Sullivan family.

Tompkins preferred to piece her designs herself, leaving others to complete the work. Her undated quilt Untitled features a limited palette with prominent dangling ties that create an insistent and inventive rhythm. Untitled (framed half-squares four patch), created in 1989, includes brightly colored pieces of corduroy fabric arranged in variations on traditional patterns. Irene Bankhead, one of Tompkins's primary assistants, finished and quilted this work in 1990.

These two quilts are the first works by Tompkins to enter the collection, and they complement the National Gallery's acquisition of nine Gee's Bend quilts from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in 2020.

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