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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 ...

Article

Sarah Medlam

(fl 1839; d Paris, c. 1889).

French publisher and furniture designer. He was an important disseminator of historical and contemporary designs in 19th-century France. After 1839 he published a constant stream of lithograph designs for furniture, both his own designs and illustrations of the products of commercial firms, which provide an important source for the study of furniture of the period. His chief work was the journal Le Garde-meuble ancien et moderne, which he edited from 1844 to 1882. After 1846 he also published a supplement, L’Ameublement et l’utilité, which soon merged with the parent publication: lithographic designs of seat furniture, case furniture and hangings were reproduced, aimed at both tradesmen and clients. The plates also include general views of interiors and plans of furniture layouts, which give a comprehensive view of the development of styles. Guilmard produced albums recording the furniture shown at the Expositions Universelles of 1844, 1849 and 1855 in Paris and a long series of albums showing designs for particular types of furniture, woodwork fittings or upholstery. He was an important figure in the developing study of historical ornament and design: as early as ...

Article

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

Bruno Pons

(b c. 1677; d July 13, 1746).

French architect and designer. He was a pupil of François d’Orbay and had some early success as an interior designer and decorator, publishing with Jean Langlois before 1705 a series of six prints entitled Nouveaux lambris de galeries, chambres et cabinets. He also developed a thriving architectural practice in Paris. His earliest surviving town house is the Hôtel d’Avaray (85, Rue de Grenelle; now the Dutch Embassy), a restrained three-storey building. The garden façade has a slightly projecting central pavilion of three bays, with wide quoins and a pediment enclosing the owner’s coat of arms. Le Roux employed the mason Charles Boscry to work on the house from 1720 to 1721; during the same period he built the Hôtel du Prat (1720; 60, Rue de Varenne).

In 1724 Le Roux obtained his first commission from the Maréchal de Roquelaure, who became an important client; this followed the death of the architect Pierre Lassurance I, when Le Roux was asked to complete the alterations to the Maréchal’s town house at 244, Boulevard Saint-Germain (now the Ministère de l’Equipement). He carried out the entire interior decoration of the house in a restrained and orderly Rococo style (engraved; a small salon survives) and also designed the portal of the ...

Article

Peter Stansky

(b Walthamstow [now in London], March 24, 1834; d London, Oct 3, 1896).

English designer, writer and activist. His importance as both a designer and propagandist for the arts cannot easily be overestimated, and his influence has continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. He was a committed Socialist whose aim was that, as in the Middle Ages, art should be for the people and by the people, a view expressed in several of his writings. After abandoning his training as an architect, he studied painting among members of the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1861 he founded his own firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (from 1875 Morris & Co.), which produced stained glass, furniture, wallpaper and fabrics (see §3 below). Morris’s interests constantly led him into new activities such as his last enterprise, the Kelmscott Press (see §5 below). In 1950 his home at Walthamstow became the William Morris Gallery. The William Morris Society was founded in 1956, and it publishes a biannual journal and quarterly newsletter....

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 ...