Maria Clark’s candlewick spread is embroidered entirely in cotton roving of a single weight on a single layer of fine cotton. It retains an early center medallion set with an urn of flowers from which spring floriated vines, tendrils, and flowers. Candlewick spreads are often embroidered using several weights of roving to provide visual interest. The consistency of the thread and the density of the design in this example, however, are used to create the effect of a woven Marseilles coverlet.
Clark’s name and the place name “Coventry” are stitched within a wreathlike cartouche. The presence of a woman’s name sometimes indicates that a bedcover has been made in anticipation of a marriage. It is not known if this was Maria Clark’s intention, but her will indicates she died in Coventry apparently unmarried, as her property is bequeathed to nieces, nephews, and siblings. Intriguingly, her estate included more than one “feather bed and the necessary bed clothing bolster and pillows belonging thereto.”
Stacy C. Hollander, "Candlewick Spread," exhibition label for White on White (and a little gray). Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2006.