1840 - 1880 Elizabeth McEuen Smith's Indian Palampore

This whole-cloth quilt was made from an Indian palampore, about 1780, that according to the donor was given to Thomas Sully (1783-1872) by a woman whose portrait he had painted. An inscription written in ink on the palampore before it was lined and quilted states:
“. . . Thomas Sully This Quilt was purchased 1736 of a Smuggler of East India goods in the Isle of White [sic], England (Belonging to my late friend Mifs Bradford. Elizabeth Smith Charleston.”
While the date in the inscription appears to be 1736, the design of the palampore is more typical of the latter half of the 18th century.
Thomas Sully painted Elizabeth McEuen Smith’s portrait in 1823 (now in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts). He painted another of her sisters, Emily and Mary McEuen (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Elizabeth was born in 1795 in Philadelphia, Pa. She married Charles Willis Smith in 1817. Elizabeth died in Georgetown, D.C., in 1839.
A small stamp, possibly an agent’s stamp in Tamil appears in the same area as the inscription. The palampore quilt top was both mordant-painted (a chemical process to fix a dye), dyed, and hand-painted, in Madras, India. It was probably quilted and lined in the mid-19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 114 in x 87 in; 288 cm x 220 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Nancy Harper Wheeler
Additional Media

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