American Decorative Arts
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Designer: Ruth Reeves, American, 1892–1966
Retailer: W. & J. Sloane, American, 1843–1985

Coverlet, “Electric” Pattern



74 1/8 × 41 1/8 in. (188.3 × 104.46 cm)
John P. Axelrod Collection, B.A. 1968
Ruth Reeves was a pioneering figure in modernist textile design in the United States. In the 1920s, she studied painting with Fernand Léger in Paris while simultaneously experimenting with techniques for printing and dyeing fabric. After returning to the United States in 1927, she established a studio near New York City to produce dynamic textiles inspired by contemporary art and modern life. Reeves first exhibited the Electric pattern in 1930 at the W. & J. Sloane department store in Manhattan. With its energetic, zigzagging shapes evocative of lightning bolts, the pattern was intended to be used for curtains or upholstery in a radio room, a then newly invented domestic space. This particular version was made into a coverlet for a lacquered steel bed that Reeves created for the Long Beach, Long Island, house of Louise and Glendon Allvine.
Made in New City, New York
Not on view
20th century

Made for Louise and Glendon Allvine, Lond Beach, N.Y., 1930; Ruth Reeves, New Delhi, by 1966; transferred to the Estate of Ruth Reeves, New York, 1966-86; purchased by John P. Axelrod, Boston, 1986-95


“Acquisitions, January 1994–December 1995,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1995–96): 140.

Alastair Duncan, American Art Deco (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986), 141, ill.

John Stuart Gordon et al., A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011), 65–66, no. 34.

Karen Davies, At Home in Manhattan: Modern Decorative Arts, 1925 to the Depression, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 80, no. 60.

Marian Wardle, American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910–1945, exh. cat. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 2005), 34–35, fig. 45.

Sarah D. Coffin, Stephen Harrison, and Emily M. Orr, The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, exh. cat. (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2017), 222–23, 358, no. 302, fig. 271.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.