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Term used to describe a movement of the 1870s and 1880s that manifested itself in the fine and decorative arts and architecture in Britain and subsequently in the USA. Reacting to what was seen as evidence of philistinism in art and design, it was characterized by the cult of the beautiful and an emphasis on the sheer pleasure to be derived from it. In painting there was a belief in the autonomy of art, the concept of Art for Art’s Sake, which originated in France as a literary movement and was introduced into Britain around 1860.

The Aesthetic Movement was championed by the writers and critics Walter Pater, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Oscar Wilde. In keeping with Pater’s theories, the artists associated with it painted pictures without narrative or significant subject-matter. Dante Gabriel Rossetti took his inspiration from Venetian art because of its emphasis on colour and the decorative. This resulted in a number of half-length paintings of female figures, such as the ...

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

Penny Sparke

(b New York, NY, Dec 20, 1865; d Versailles, July 12, 1950).

American interior decorator, active also in France. Born in New York, in the early 1890s she became a professional actress, wearing couture clothes on stage. Recognized as a better “clothes horse” than actress, she transformed herself, aged 40, into an interior decorator. This was partly made possible by the support of her female companion, Elizabeth Marbury, with whom she lived from the early 1890s until World War I, in a house in Irving Place, New York.

Although de Wolfe’s first major interior decorating project, the Colony Club (1905–7) in New York, was undertaken in a Colonial style, on the many projects that she undertook over the next decade across the USA, she used a revived French 18th-century style that was favored by her nouveau riche clients, among them Lolita and J. Ogden Armour, based in Chicago, and Ethel and William H. Crocker in California. In 1913 she wrote a highly successful decorating advice book, ...

Article

Oscar P. Fitzgerald

(b Stuttgart, Jan 8, 1839; d New York, Nov 2, 1883).

American cabinetmaker and designer of German birth. He completed his studies in Stuttgart and Paris and arrived in New York in 1859 to join his half-brother, Gustave Herter (1830–98), who ran a decorating business. After becoming an American citizen in 1867, he travelled to Paris and England, returning c. 1870, when he bought Herter Bros from Gustave. The firm’s luxurious furniture and interiors from the early 1870s show the influence of the Paris Opéra by Charles Garnier, which he had no doubt seen. From the mid-1870s, however, the work of Herter Bros exhibited the more restrained and geometric lines of English design reformers, particularly the architect E. W. Godwin, who promoted an enthusiasm for things Japanese. Although Herter’s best Eastlake-style furniture reflects many of the reform ideas, he also used earlier Renaissance Revival (see fig.) and Néo-Grec designs (see fig.). Much of his work shows a strong Japanese flavour, with angular, ebonized cherry cases enlivened with wild flower, insect and bird marquetry (...

Article

Mark Alan Hewitt

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 9, 1872; d Philadelphia, PA, Oct 30, 1938).

American architect and campus planner. Klauder was the son of Louis Klauder, a German-born furniture manufacturer, and Anna Caroline Koehler. He trained as an apprentice under the architect Theophilus P. Chandler from the age of 15, furthering his studies at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. Between 1893 and 1900 he worked at a number of prominent Philadelphia firms before attaining the position of chief draftsman at Frank Miles Day & Brother (see under Frank Miles Day). He became a partner in 1910 and continued the firm under his own name after Day’s death in 1918.

Klauder teamed with the English-born Day to design some of the nation’s most influential and distinguished campus buildings during the heyday of university expansion in the early 20th century. Along with Cope & Stewardson, Day & Klauder may be credited with the invention of the Collegiate Gothic idiom in American architecture. Their early work at Princeton and Cornell universities set the standard for dormitory and classroom designs in the Ivy League. Klauder extended the Gothic idiom during the 1920s to incorporate elements of Art Deco abstraction and modern building technology. Klauder created campus plans for the University of Colorado (...

Article

Ronald R. McCarty

(b Benicia, CA, Dec 12, 1872; d Palm Beach, FL, Feb 5, 1933).

American architect, interior designer, city planner, and developer. Mizner specialized in Mediterranean Revival architecture in California, New York, and Florida during the early 20th century and founded Mizner Industries, Inc. Mizner was the second youngest son born to Lansing Bond Mizner and Ella Watson Mizner. His father was an accomplished lawyer, politician, and landowner, later becoming the American ambassador to five republics in Latin America that are now Guatemala, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica. Travelling internationally with his father, Addison became fluent in Spanish and was inspired by the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish architecture of Central America. After moving to San Francisco in 1890, he attended Boones University in Berkeley. He continued his education at the University of Salamanca in Spain in 1892–3. Returning to the USA he began his professional training in San Francisco as an apprentice draftsman in 1894 with the firm of Willis J. Polk, becoming a full partner with the firm in ...

Article

Marisa J. Pascucci

(b Marlboro, MA, Aug 25, 1867; d Lexington, MA, April 16, 1945).

American painter and frame designer. Murphy painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits in the Tonalist and Impressionist manner (see Tonalism and Impressionism). In the 1880s he enrolled in the Boston Museum School and studied under Edmund C(harles) Tarbell and Frank W(eston) Benson. After this period of study, he served as an illustrator for the Nicaraguan Canal Expedition in 1887 and contributed illustrations to books and magazines from 1888 to 1894. Once he had saved enough money from his illustration work, he left Boston to study in Paris at the Académie Julian from 1891 to 1896 with Jean-Paul Laurens. While in Paris, he met James McNeill Whistler who had the greatest influence on his work. Murphy returned to the Boston area in 1897 and was awarded the bronze medal at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. A year later he began teaching life drawing at Harvard School of Architecture, a position he held until ...

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....