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Article

Isabel L. Taube

Late 19th-century movement in the arts and literature characterized by the pursuit and veneration of beauty and the fostering of close relationships among the fine and applied arts. According to its major proponents, beauty was found in imaginative creations that harmonized colours, forms, and patterns derived from Western and non-Western cultures as well as motifs from nature. The Aesthetic Movement gained momentum in England in the 1850s, achieved widespread popularity in England and the USA by the 1870s, and declined by the 1890s.

The principal ideologies and practices of British Aestheticism came to the USA through both educational and commercial channels. As early as 1873, the Scottish stained-glass designer, decorator, and art dealer Daniel Cottier opened a branch of his interior design shop in New York and played a significant role in introducing aesthetic taste and artefacts to Americans. The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, with its extensive display of industrial and decorative arts, showcased British Aestheticism and the Japanese ceramics that influenced it. British art magazines and books, especially Charles Locke Eastlake’s ...

Article

American, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 17 May 1865, in Chillicothe (Ohio).

Draughtsman, decorative designer, writer.

John Bennett studied at the Art Students League in New York and at the Cincinnati Academy. He wrote and illustrated The Pigtail of Ah Lee Ben Loo (published 1928...

Article

American, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 15 December 1848, in Brooklyn (New York City); died 12 October 1936, in New York.

Painter, mosaic designer, writer. Allegorical subjects, figures, portraits, decorative schemes, genre scenes. Murals.

Edwin Howland Blashfield studied in Paris under Léon Bonnat (1867-1869, 1875-1880), and received guidance from Jean-Léon Gérôme and Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu. He studied the decorations of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Jean-Paul Laurens and Paul Baudry in the Panthéon in Paris. During a trip to Englandin 1887, Blashfield associated with Anglo-American artists Edwin Austin Abbey, John Singer Sargent, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton. He returned to the USA in 1881. He later travelled to Italy to see frescoes, and also visited Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. Blashfield was President of the National Academy of Design....

Article

Merrill Halkerston

(b Portland, ME, March 4, 1832; d New York, March 26, 1920).

American painter, interior designer and writer. Colman grew up in New York, where his father, Samuel Colman, ran a successful publishing business. The family bookstore on Broadway, a popular meeting place for artists, offered Colman early introductions to such Hudson River school painters as Asher B(rown) Durand, with whom he is said to have studied briefly around 1850. Having won early recognition for his paintings of popular Hudson River school locations (see Storm King on the Hudson), he was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1854. Most of Colman’s landscapes of the 1850s, for example Meadows and Wildflowers at Conway (1856; Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar Coll., Frances Lehman Loeb A. Cent.), reveal the influence of the Hudson River school. An avid traveller, he embarked on his first European tour in 1860, visiting France, Italy, Switzerland and the more exotic locales of southern Spain and Morocco. His reputation was secured in the 1860s by his numerous paintings of romantic Spanish sites, notably the large ...

Article

(b New York, Jan 24, 1862; d Pavillon Colombe, nr Paris, Aug 11, 1937).

American writer . She was born into a wealthy New York family and was educated privately; she travelled widely, settling in France in 1907. Her first book was The Decoration of Houses (1898), written in collaboration with the Boston architect Ogden Codman (who had remodelled her home at Newport, RI, in 1893). Their aim was to raise the standard of decoration in modern houses to that of the past through a return to ‘architectural proportion’ and an avoidance of the ‘superficial application of ornament’. Each room should be furnished for comfort and according to its use and should be organically related to the rest of the house and the quality of life to be expressed. The work was successful and influential among both the public and such decorators as Elsie De Wolfe and William Odom. Wharton’s house in Lenox, MA, the Mount, built to her design from 1901...

Article

American, 19th century, male.

Active in England and in France.

Born 10 July 1834, in Lowell (Massachusetts); died 17 July 1903 , in London.

Painter, pastellist, watercolourist, etcher, draughtsman, lithographer, decorative designer, writer, collector. Genre scenes, portraits, landscapes.

Japonisme, Aesthetic movement.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s father, Major George Whistler, came from an old Dutch family. As a military engineer, he accepted a job that took him to Russia to work on the St Petersburg-Moscow railway line, and his son, still a child, went with him. George Whistler remained in Russia until his death in 1849, after which his widow, Anna McNeill (who was of Scottish origin), returned to the United States with her son. Whistler devoted himself to drawing, while at the same time working to enter West Point Military Academy; he succeeded in 1851, but he was of an independent nature and it was not long before he decided to give up a military career. He found employment as a draughtsman for the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in Washington, DC, and it was at this time that he executed his first etchings. Here too, however, the constraints of bureaucracy sat ill with him, and he resigned his position in 1855 to open a studio in Washington. He then left the United States and settled in Europe, working in London and in Paris. In 1856, he joined Charles Gleyre’s studio, where he was a fellow pupil and friend of Edgar Degas, Alphonse Legros, Félix Bracquemond, and especially Henri Fantin-Latour....

Article

American, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 1 November 1868, in New York; died 1921, in Philadelphia.

Stained glass painter, decorative designer, writer. Designs for stained glass.

William Willet produced numerous stained-glass windows in New York, Germantown, Pittsburgh and West Point.