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Article

Bonhams  

Molly K. Dorkin

[Jones and Bonham; Bonhams & Brooks; Bonhams & Butterfields; Bonhams & Goodman]

Auction house established in London 1793 by William Charles Bonham, a book dealer (also recorded as Walter Bonham), and George Jones, from a gallery founded by Thomas Dodd (1771–1850), a dealer in antiquarian prints. Bonhams originally specialized in sales of prints in the 18th and 19th centuries, at which time the market was robust. By the 19th century Bonhams was also holding sales of antiques, which were advertised in the London press alongside similar offerings from Christie’s and Phillips. In the 1820s Dodd and fellow print dealer Martin Colnaghi catalogued the print collection belonging to Horace Walpole prior to its sale. Dodd and Colnaghi also catalogued the 50,000 works in the collection of Francis Douce for their donation to the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. By the 1850s Jones’s son Henry and Bonham’s son George had taken over the business, which became known as Jones and Bonham. Paintings had been offered in their sales alongside print collections since the 1840s....

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

Article

Kevin D. Murphy

Domestic architecture in the USA comprises a wide variety of types—including detached single-family residences, row houses or town houses, apartment buildings, and more—as well as structures ranging from impermanent earth-fast dwellings of the seventeenth century to contemporary ‘McMansions’ measuring thousands of square feet in size. What makes housing important are the many ways in which it has deeply touched the lives of all Americans. Because of its diversity, the domestic architecture of the USA has been studied from a range of disciplinary perspectives, from the formal to the anthropological.

The earliest housing in America was built by native populations prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 17th century. While some was substantial, such as Pueblo Bonito (AD 910–1110) in Chaco Canyon, NM, other architecture, such as that constructed by many Native Americans in the Northeast, was transient.

While the subject of housing has sometimes been considered the purview of architectural historians, in fact, at any given historical moment, many (if not most) domestic buildings have not been designed by professional architects but by carpenters, builders, contractors, or home-owners. In the settlement period, the houses of most European Americans were earth-fast, small-scale, one-storey buildings, and were designed by their owners or builders. Given that the earliest housing in the USA was not built on stone foundations, it was perishable and little of it survives; it is known primarily through archaeological evidence. Research has shown that the earliest houses were typically constructed of locally available materials and that regional variations reflected the places of origin of the builders. For example, the 17th-century architecture of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reflected the knowledge on the part of its British settlers of existing traditions in Great Britain, although it was adapted to local circumstances. The Parson Capen House in Topsfield, MA (...

Article

Molly K. Dorkin

[Messrs Phillips & Son; Phillips, Son & Neale; Phillips de Pury & Company]

Auction house founded in London in 1796 by Harry Phillips (d 1840), formerly senior clerk to James Christie (1730–1803). Phillips’ inaugural sale of household furniture was held on 23 April 1796. The auctioneer soon distinguished himself by combining the skills he had learnt from observing Christie’s methods with a talent for ceremony and showmanship. Many of his innovations, such as holding lavish evening receptions for his clients and translating the business of sales into theatre, are widely employed by auction houses today. In his first year of business Phillips oversaw 12 auctions. He was soon charged with selling some of the most distinguished collections of the era, including those of Marie Antoinette, Stanisław II Poniatowski of Poland, and Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1823 Phillips was commissioned to auction the collection at Fonthill Abbey, a sale originally offered to Christie’s. Instead, it was Phillips who conducted an epic 30-day sale of the contents of the house. Some 7200 people attended the pre-sale viewing. Phillips also presided over the only auction ever to be held in Buckingham Palace, in ...

Article

Harriet F. Senie

Objects created to remind viewers of specific individuals or events (see also Public monument). At its inception, the United States faced fundamental questions of what the new nation should commemorate and what forms would be appropriate for its new form of government: democracy. Primary subjects were presidents as well as military leaders and wars that functioned as expressions of national values. Often realized long after their subject had died or ended, monuments frequently reflected the time in which they were actually built. As societal values changed, so did the form and emphasis of monuments.

National memorials to the most influential presidents, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt include an obelisk, a sculpture housed in a temple and a large complex defined by a series of outdoor spaces dedicated to key aspects of a presidency.

Initially there were no American sculptors capable of realizing a monumental project to George Washington (...

Article

Sara Stevens

A category of buildings designed to house retail and shopping. It includes arcades, department stores, shopping malls, strip centres, and big-box stores. Retail architecture exists in small towns, big cities, and suburbs: anywhere people congregate. It is as ubiquitous in time and space as the organized exchange of goods for money. It is distinguished from commercial architecture, which, in real estate and architectural practice, can refer more generally to any property that produces income for its investors or owners but does not refer to a building’s architectural function (i.e. retail).

Buildings housing commercial activity have existed since antiquity. Anthropologists have described exchange halls and commercial structures in many cultures, including Roman, Aztec, Tang dynasty China, and Mesopotamian. During the medieval and Renaissance periods, market halls and exchanges were built in cities such as Antwerp, Bruges, London, and Venice, sheltering trading activities at ground level and municipal government functions above (...

Article

Santos  

James Cordova and Claire Farago

Term that refers to handmade paintings and sculptures of Christian holy figures, crafted by artists from the Hispanic and Lusophone Americas. The term first came into widespread use in early 20th-century New Mexico among English-speaking art collectors to convey a sense of cultural authenticity. Throughout the Americas, the term imagenes occurs most frequently in Spanish historical documents. Santos are usually painted on wood panels (retablos) or carved and painted in the round (bultos). Reredos, or altarpieces, often combine multiple retablos and bultos within a multi-level architectural framework.

European Christian imagery was circulated widely through the Spanish viceroyalties in the form of paintings, sculptures, and prints, the majority of which were produced in metropolitan centres such as Mexico City, Antigua, Lima, and Puebla, where European- and American-born artists established guilds and workshops. These became important sources upon which local artists elsewhere based their own traditions of religious image-making using locally available materials such as buffalo hides, vegetal dyes, mineral pigments, and yucca fibres, commonly employed by native artists long before European contact....

Article

Elise Madeleine Ciregna

Stonecarving throughout American history has been utilized for various purposes: utilitarian work such as paving, roofing and hitching posts; and ornamental work, such as architectural elements, gravestones and monuments, and sculpture. America’s first professional stonecarvers were mainly trained, skilled artisans from England and Scotland. These men were often called “statuaries” because they were capable of producing highly ornamental carving and sculpture, similar to the work of trained academic sculptors. There was little call for such highly decorative work in the colonies, but as urban centers gradually formed, stone masons found plenty of work in newly emerging cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

In rural areas many of America’s early stonecarvers were native-born and self-taught. Their skills were most often put to use carving gravestones, which were needed in every community. Both professional and native-born stonecarvers produced beautiful, often idiosyncratic carved work. They worked in the “direct” method of carving, that is carving directly into the stone without creating a preliminary model. Botanist John Bartram designed his own stone house in Philadelphia around ...