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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 ...

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E. A. Christensen

(b Bloomington, IL, June 19, 1856; d SS Lusitania, off Co. Cork, May 7, 1915).

American designer. He was initially a successful salesman for the Illinois-based Weller’s Practical Soaps. He settled in East Aurora, near Buffalo, NY, and abandoned selling soap in 1893. During a trip to England the following year, he met William Morris and admired the works of his Kelmscott Press. On returning to East Aurora, Hubbard employed his great showmanship to popularize a simplified version of English Arts and Crafts design for a wide audience. With the help of a local press, he began publishing monthly biographies, Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great (1895–1909), the first two of which treat the lives of George Eliot and John Ruskin. Soon after, he founded the Roycroft Press with the publication of The Philistine (1895–1915), a monthly journal combining popular philosophy, aphorisms and brief preachments with crude Art Nouveau lettering and ornament. The Song of Songs (1895), printed on handmade paper with rough and arty bindings, was the first of many Roycroft books. The press became the centre of the ...

Article

(b Saginaw, MI, May 24, 1917).

American architect and designer. Orphaned as a child, Florence Knoll Bassett was educated at the Kingswood School for Girls, part of the Cranbrook community of schools in Bloomfield Hills, MI, founded by Detroit publisher George Booth and Finnish architect Saarinen family §(1). At Kingswood, she forged a close relationship with Saarinen and his wife Loja, a textile designer. In 1934, Eliel Saarinen encouraged her to study architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art where she continued until 1939, departing for periods to study at the Columbia University School of Architecture and the Architectural Association in London.

In 1940, Knoll Bassett furthered her understanding of architecture and design under leading figures of the Bauhaus by studying with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology and working briefly in the architectural office of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. The following year, she arrived in New York and found employment at the firm of Harrison and Abramovitz designing interiors. Through the firm, she met manufacturer and retailer of modern furniture, Hans Knoll (...

Article

Mary Ann Smith

(b Osceola, WI, March 9, 1858; d Syracuse, NY, April 20, 1942).

American designer and publisher. During most of the period 1875–99, he worked in various family-owned furniture-manufacturing businesses around Binghamton, NY. He travelled to Europe in the 1890s, seeing work by Arts and Crafts designers. In 1898 he established the Gustave Stickley Company in Eastwood, a suburb of Syracuse, NY. The following year he introduced his unornamented, rectilinear Craftsman furniture inspired by the writings of John Ruskin and William Morris. He adopted a William Morris motto, ‘Als ik kan’ (‘If I can’), as his own and used the symbol of a medieval joiner’s compass as his trademark. In 1903 he dropped the ‘e’ in the spelling of Gustave.

Stickley published The Craftsman Magazine (1901–16), a periodical devoted to the Arts and Crafts Movement (see Craftsman Movement). The first issue was dedicated to Morris, the second to Ruskin. Most issues contained articles and illustrations of Craftsman furniture by Stickley. The periodical contained information on American and foreign designers, Japanese and Native American crafts, manual arts education, socialism, and gardens. The architect ...