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Article

Eleanor M. McPeck

(b Lancaster, MA, Dec 16, 1814; d Hinsdale, IL, Dec 5, 1900).

American landscape architect and writer. He was a descendant of Moses Cleveland, who came from Ipswich, England, in 1635, and his father, Richard Jaffry Cleveland, was a sea captain. Cleveland gained early agricultural experience in Cuba while his father served as Vice-Consul in Havana. On his return to the USA after 1833, Horace studied civil engineering in Illinois and Maine, settled afterwards on a farm near Burlington, NJ, and became corresponding secretary of the New Jersey Horticultural Society. In 1854 he moved with his family to the vicinity of Boston, spending three years in Salem and ten years in Danvers. During this early phase of his career he formed a partnership with Robert Morris Copeland (1830–74), a landscape architect of Lexington, MA, and designed several rural cemeteries near Boston, including Oak Grove (1854) in Gloucester, MA, and the celebrated Sleepy Hollow (1855) in Concord, MA. In ...

Article

Patrick A. Snadon

(b New York, July 24, 1803; d Orange, NJ, Jan 14, 1892).

American architect. From the 1830s to the 1850s he was one of the most influential architects in the USA. His work ranges from major government and institutional buildings to ornamental garden structures; his main contribution to American architecture was his introduction of the European Picturesque in his designs for Italianate and Gothic Revival country houses and cottages. With his partner, Ithiel Town, he also refined and popularized the American Greek Revival. He revolutionized American architectural drawing through rendering buildings in romantic landscapes rather than in the analytical, Neo-classical style that preceded him. In 1836 he helped form the American Institution of Architects and advanced professionalism in American architecture through his scrupulous office practices, being, for example, the first American architect to use printed, standardized specifications.

At the age of 16, Davis left school in New York to work as a type compositor in Alexandria, VA. During this time, probably influenced by reading contemporary Gothic novels, he made drawings of prison and castle interiors akin to Piranesi’s engravings of imaginary prisons. In ...

Article

Arthur Channing Downs

(b Newburgh, NY, Oct 31, 1815; d Hudson River, NY, July 28, 1852).

American writer, horticulturist, landscape gardener and architect. From the age of seven he was trained in the family nursery garden by his elder brother Charles Downing (1802–85), an experimental horticulturist. Before he was 15, Downing came under the influence of André Parmentier (1780–1830), a Dutch-trained landscape gardener, and he studied the 700-acre estate that Parmentier had landscaped in the English manner at Hyde Park, NY. Downing was also influenced by the mineralogist Baron Alois von Lederer (1773–1842) and the landscape painter Raphael Hoyle (1804–38). In 1834 Downing’s first article, ‘Ornamental Trees’, appeared in journals in Boston, MA, and France. His article ‘The Fitness of Different Styles of Architecture for Country Residences’ (1836) was the first important discussion of the topic in America. He expressed enthusiasm for a variety of styles and insisted they must be used in appropriate settings. His ...

Article

Keith N. Morgan

(b Cambridge, MA, Nov 1, 1859; d Brookline, MA, March 25, 1897).

American landscape architect, regional planner and writer. He was the son of Charles W. Eliot, the influential reforming president of Harvard College (1869–1909). He inherited much of his father’s broad vision and organizational talent, and he applied these to his interest in landscape preservation.

After completing his basic studies at Harvard in 1882, Eliot decided to attend courses in botany and horticulture at Harvard’s Bussey Institute as preparation for a career in landscape architecture. However, in 1883 he was offered an apprenticeship with Frederick Law Olmsted sr, the foremost landscape architect in the USA; he remained with Olmsted until 1885, during which time the office developed plans for several important projects, notably the Boston municipal park system and the Arnold Arboretum, Boston. He then completed his courses at the Bussey Institute, after which he toured abroad for a year, inspecting parks, gardens and natural landscapes from England to Italy and Russia....

Article

(b New York, June 19, 1872; d Bar Harbor, ME, Feb 27, 1959).

American landscape designer. Born into a well connected family, she was introduced to important European gardens by her aunt, Edith Wharton. Farrand studied horticulture with Charles Sprague Sargent (1841–1927) at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA, and in 1895 began practising as a landscape designer in New York. In 1899 she became a founder-member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The landscapes of Beatrix Farrand can be seen today with some degree of completeness in only two major gardens: Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC (1922–33), and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden (1926–late 1930s) at The Eyrie, Seal Harbor, on Mount Desert Island, ME. The rest of her designs—around 200 gardens—have disappeared. Remnants of a few are being rediscovered, and with the aid of the documentation she gave to the University of California at Berkeley, it may be possible to restore them. By the 1980s, Farrand had almost been forgotten; however, a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks inspired new research and brought her back into public view....

Article

Robert E. Grese

(b Dybbøl, Denmark, Sept 13, 1860; d Ellison Bay, WI, Oct 1, 1951).

American landscape architect of Danish birth. He began building his reputation as a designer in 1888 when he delighted the Chicago public with his design for the American Garden in Union Park. With it he set the tone for a lifetime of creating natural parks and gardens. During a stormy career with Chicago’s West Parks, Jensen reshaped Union, Humboldt, Garfield, and Douglas parks. His work on Columbus Park (1916) is generally regarded as the best of his designs for Chicago’s West Parks System. During the same period he designed numerous residential gardens for the élite of Chicago and across the Midwest. He established close friendships with the architects of the Prairie school and occasionally collaborated with them on projects.

Throughout his career Jensen attempted to relate forms and materials to the surrounding native landscape. Designs were not intended to be copies of nature, but symbolic representations using colour, texture, sunlight and shadow, seasonal change, and careful manipulation of space to evoke a deep emotional response. He saw a value in plants then thought to be common weeds and used them in ecological patterns as found in the wild. His design of ...

Article

Martin Segger

(b Sapperton, New Westminster, BC, April 11, 1860; d Victoria, BC, Aug 8, 1929).

Canadian architect. He was the son of a British Army Royal Engineer and is reputed to have been the first white child born in the city of New Westminster. He was the foremost domestic architect in British Columbia during the period 1890–1920 and established a building style and form that gave Victoria and parts of Vancouver a distinctive Canadian west-coast flavour. Maclure was a self-taught architect, although he briefly studied painting at the Spring Garden Institute, Philadelphia, PA, in 1884–5. He opened his first practice in New Westminster in 1889 and moved to Victoria in 1892, where he had an office. In 1905 a practice was established in Vancouver in partnership with Cecil Croker Fox (1879–1916), who had trained in London with C. F. A. Voysey. The office closed with Fox’s death at the Front in France in 1916. In 1920 the office reopened under Maclure’s former apprentice, ...

Article

Robin Karson

(b Reading, MA, Nov 6, 1860; d Waltham, MA, Feb 5, 1938).

American landscape architect and planner. Manning spent his childhood in the rural countryside north of Boston and from an early age assisted in the nursery founded by his well-known father Jacob, who also took him on plant-collecting excursions in the wild. In time Manning acquired wide knowledge of both native and exotic plants, and he also became interested in landscape design, advertising his services through his father’s nursery. In 1888 he left the family business and took a position as planting supervisor in the Brookline, MA, office of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot.

Working alongside Frederick Law Olmsted, John Charles Olmsted and Charles Eliot, Manning learned to apply his vast horticultural repertory to a Romantic style of landscape design that combined aspects of the British Picturesque with an American appreciation for bold scenic effects and attention to the genius loci. He also learned the rudiments of sophisticated data-gathering techniques developed by Eliot during work on the Boston park system. Manning’s most important projects with the Olmsted firm included the Boston parks, the installation of plants at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (...

Article

Richard L. Dagenhart

(b Philadelphia, PA, June 14, 1869; d Feb 18, 1937).

American landscape architect and city planner. Nolen was raised in the Girard School for Orphaned Boys in Philadelphia, graduating first in his class and later graduating with his BPhil from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1893. After several years working with the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching, Nolen moved to Cambridge, MA, to enroll in Harvard’s newly established School of Landscape Architecture, studying under Frederick Law Olmsted and receiving his MA in 1905. After establishing his office in Cambridge, he and his associates began a practice of landscape architecture but soon expanded their work to include city planning. By 1919, Nolen had written two books, edited two additional books and published numerous articles on the emerging field of city planning. Nolen’s firm completed more than 350 landscape architecture and city planning commissions before his death in 1937. He served as president of the National Conference on City Planning and was one of the founders of the American Institute of City Planners. Nolen was instrumental in establishing city planning education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and other universities. Along with the Olmsted Brothers and a small cadre of others, Nolen transformed American city planning from the early years of the ...

Article

Charles E. Beveridge

(b Hartford, CT, April 26, 1822; d Waverly, MA, Aug 22, 1903).

American landscape designer, urban planner, and writer. Influenced by 18th-century English traditions of landscape design and by his own social beliefs in the importance of community and the civilizing role of aesthetic taste, Olmsted undertook a large number of public and private commissions. His commissions ranged from regional plans and scenic reservations to residential communities, academic campuses, and the grounds of private estates. With his partner Calvert Vaux and later independently, he designed a series of city parks systems between 1858 and 1895 in which landscaped parks were integrated with other public spaces through broad interconnecting thoroughfares, or parkways, which incorporated drives, paths, and areas of turf and trees. His major work includes Central Park (1858–77), New York, and the ‘Emerald Necklace’ series of public spaces in Boston (1880s). He believed in the power of landscaped scenery to exercise a restorative and civilizing influence.

Olmsted’s forebears helped to found Hartford in ...

Article

Keith N. Morgan

(b New York, Oct 16, 1861; d Cornish, NH, Sept 12, 1933).

American architect, garden designer, etcher, and painter. He was brought up in New York, where he began his artistic training in 1878 at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. The following summer he was introduced to the recently revived art of etching, and he quickly achieved critical recognition for his work in this medium. He continued to etch for most of his life, concentrating on coastal scenes in which he strove to capture the atmospheric interaction of light, air, and water. In May 1882 Platt travelled to Paris to continue his training as a painter, working first independently and then after 1883 at the Académie Julian under Jules Lefebvre. Although he exhibited The Etcher (Boston, MA, St. Botolph’s Club) at the Paris Salon of 1885, Platt eventually rejected his figural training and turned back to his youthful interest in landscape. On his return to New York, he continued to exhibit his paintings and etchings, and in ...

Article

Therese O’Malley

Term given to a regional style of landscape design in America. In 1915, Wilhelm Miller, a professor of Landscape Horticulture at the University of Illinois, defined a new American regional style in an article entitled “The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening.” This seminal article described the work of Ossian Cole Simonds (1855–1931), Jens Jensen and Walter Burley Griffin (see Griffin family) as the main proponents of a Midwestern school that drew upon the Prairie school of architecture epitomized by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Simonds is credited with the innovation of transplanting native plants from the countryside to manmade landscapes as early as 1880, specifically at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. The uses of native species as well as a spatial design in harmony with the regional landscape are cited by Miller as the defining elements of the new style. Simonds, in contrast to previous designers, considered flatness a Midwestern characteristic and a positive attribute, and he employed it to create the long view. Jensen was to build upon the ideas and techniques of Simonds’s work and integrate and publicize them as a theory of design. Although they borrowed forms and techniques for various naturalistic garden traditions, Miller insisted their work constituted a new style because it stressed the local flora of the Midwest and because their practices embraced the theme of the conservation of native scenery....

Article

Jacqueline Francis

(b Washington, DC, May 23, 1941).

American sculptor, printmaker, landscape designer and teacher. The eldest child of seven children born to Reginald Puryear, a postal worker, and Martina Puryear, a schoolteacher, Puryear majored in art at the Catholic University of America. He studied painting with Nell B. Sonneman and Franz Kline, while Robert Motherwell and Wyeth family were among the artists he admired. Puryear’s work earned him notice while he was still in college: his paintings were favorably reviewed in a group exhibition at Washington’s Adams-Morgan Gallery in 1962 and he won the Baltimore Museum of Art Purchase Prize for work displayed at that venue in 1963.

After earning his BA in art in 1963, Puryear joined the Peace Corps and taught English, French and biology in a rural Sierra Leone school from 1964 to 1966. He studied joinery and wood carving with local artists and made woodcuts and figure drawings of his environment and the people he encountered....

Article

Janet Marstine

(b Woodstown, NJ, Nov 6, 1876; d New York, May 1, 1953).

American painter, illustrator, designer, playwright, and film director. He studied industrial design at the Spring Garden School in Philadelphia from 1888 to 1890. In 1893 he became an illustrator at the Philadelphia Press. Simultaneously he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, where he met Robert Henri, John Sloan, William J. Glackens, and George Luks. Their style of urban realism prompted him to depict the bleak aspects of city life. In 1897 Shinn moved to New York and produced illustrations for several newspapers and magazines, for example Mark Twain (March 1900; see Perlman, p. 80), a frontispiece for The Critic. He also drew sketches for a novel by William Dean Howells on New York; although the novel was not published, Shinn’s drawings brought him national recognition.

Shinn’s work changed radically when, on a trip to Paris in 1901, he was inspired by the theatre scenes of Manet, Degas, and Jean-Louis Forain. He began to paint performers in action, from unusual vantage points, as in ...

Article

Robin Karson

(b Rochester, NY, June 7, 1885; d Rochester, NY, July 16, 1971).

American landscape architect. Steele spent his childhood in Pittsford, NY, in the farmhouse that had belonged to his grandparents. Early memories reveal a strong love of nature and an appreciation for landscape values that would guide his future designs. After high school, Steele entered Williams College, where he honed his acerbic wit and also made many close friends, some of whom became important clients. Against his parents’ wishes, he enrolled in the newly formed graduate program of landscape architecture at Harvard University in 1901.

Steele was not impressed by the “old maids” at Harvard, preferring instead Denman Ross, a painter and art theorist with whom he maintained a close personal and intellectual relationship for decades. After one year, he dropped out of the program to take a paid position in the office of Warren H. Manning, who assigned him to supervise development of several large projects. After a three-month grand tour (funded partly by Manning), Steele opened a Boston-based practice in ...

Article

Arthur Channing Downs

(b London, Dec 20, 1824; d Bensonhurst, NY, Nov 19, 1895).

American architect and landscape designer of English birth. He was apprenticed (?1840–45) to the architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham in London. In 1846 he and George Truefitt (1824–1902) toured Europe and afterwards helped found the Architectural Association in London.

In 1850 Vaux accepted the offer of A(ndrew) J(ackson) Downing to work in Newburgh, NY, and in 1851 the two formed a partnership. Vaux became involved in an expanding architectural and landscape design business extending from New England to Washington, DC. After Downing’s death (1852), Vaux collected the partnership’s house plans and his own designs done alone or with Frederick Clarke Withers and published them as Villas and Cottages (1857). This became the principal vehicle for transmitting Downing’s distinctly American planning idioms to builders and the architectural profession. Opposed to Revivalism, Vaux was probably the era’s first architectural author to abandon style-based design titles. Believing that all styles have the ‘self-same geometry’, he urged that they all be studied, but only for the appropriate ideas, not ‘authority’. Having been naturalized in ...

Article

Kristin E. Larsen

(b Lawrence, KS, July 2, 1878; d Newton, NJ, July 9, 1936).

American landscape architect and housing reformer. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Wright received his early training in planned picturesque park and streetscape design in the offices of the landscape architect George Kessler (1862–1923). Wright’s first widely recognized project in Clayton, an upscale neighborhood in St Louis, MO, featured palatial homes on large lots along curvilinear roads and oriented toward interior parks. He moved to Washington, DC, in 1918 to design new communities for war workers in the ship building industries. This short-lived experiment in federally funded housing transformed Wright, connecting him with such architects as Clarence Stein (1882–1975), who shared his social reform sensibilities. In the 1920s and 1930s, in partnership with Stein, Wright designed “new towns” inspired by the English garden city writings of Ebenezer Howard but reflective of the new “motor age.” Begun in 1924, Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, New York, featured single family, duplex and cooperative apartments arranged in a perimeter design around central courtyards. In ...