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Alan Powers

(Percy)

(b London, April 8, 1881; d London, April 15, 1939).

English designer. His early life was divided between the stage and the sea. He was a theatre designer in London and New York, and his stage career continued after World War I service and his survival of the sinking of the Lusitania. In 1924 he was Consultant Artistic and Technical Director of the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, London, designing murals and restaurant interiors, as well as presentations in the Government Theatre (‘Attack on Zeebrugge’) and the Admiralty Theatre (‘Air attack on London’). He is chiefly remembered for his design work for J. Lyons & Co., the London hotel and catering firm. Bernard’s displays of marble, glass and chromium plate were dazzling but inexpensive. For the Tottenham Court Road Corner House (1926), London, he made an inlaid marble decoration of Niagara Falls, now covered over. The entrance to the Strand Palace Hotel (1930–31; dismantled, parts in London, V&A) was one of London’s few Art Deco extravaganzas. Bernard also had a lively interest in the Modern Movement, assisting in ...

Article

Athena S. E. Leoussi

(b Villefranche, Rhône, 1872; d Paris, 1909).

French designer and lithographer. He began his training in Villefranche, where he studied painting, and in 1893 he moved to Paris, entering the Ecole Normale d’Enseignement du Dessin. There he became a pupil and disciple of Eugène-Samuel Grasset, the Professor of Decorative Arts, and was also influenced by Luc Olivier Merson. Berthon’s main output consisted of posters and decorative panels. However, he also produced bookbindings and furniture designs, both of which he exhibited at the Salon in 1895; designs for ceramics for Villeroy & Boch in the late 1890s; and a few designs for the covers of such magazines as L’Image (July 1897) and Poster (May 1899). His work is in an Art Nouveau style, and he adopted that movement’s plant and figural motifs, especially the motif of the femme fatale, and also its long sinuous lines. These features can be seen in such works as the poster ...

Article

Hugh Davies

(b San Lorenzo, nr Reggio di Calabria, March 10, 1915; d Barto, PA, Nov 6, 1978).

American sculptor and furniture designer of Italian birth. After settling in the USA in 1930, he studied at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Detroit (1936), and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI (1937–9), where he taught metalworking and produced abstract silver jewellery and colour monoprints. In 1943 he moved to California to assist in the development of the first of a series of chairs designed by Charles O. Eames. His first sculptures date from the late 1940s. In 1950 he established himself in Bally, PA, where he designed the Bertoia chair (1952), several forms of which were marketed by Knoll International. His furniture is characterized by the use of moulded and welded wire; in the case of the Bertoia chair, the chromium-plated steel wire is reshaped by the weight of the sitter. Bertoia also worked on small sculptures, directly forged or welded bronzes. The first of his many large architectural sculptures was a screen commissioned in ...

Article

Hans-Peter Wittwer

(Battista)

(fl late 17th century–early 18th).

Swiss-Italian stuccoist and architect. He drew up the plans for the abbey church of Muri (1694–7), Switzerland, which is regarded as the consummation of the centrally planned church and one of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Switzerland. Bettini’s scheme involved reconstructing the cruciform Romanesque abbey church. The twin towers and the low choir spanned by a Gothic lierne vault were retained, but the nave was converted into an octagonal rotunda with transeptal chapels. The ends of the former aisles, at the west and east, lie outside the octagon and are used to form galleries. The eight arches defining the octagon are of equal height but unequal width. Uniformity of height is obtained in the narrower, diagonal arches by raising the imposts rather than by stilting the arches. A large saucer dome, with stucco ornamentation by Bettini, covers the rotunda, admitting light, via penetrations, from semicircular windows set on a slightly curving entablature inside, supported by folded pilasters. Bettini’s reputation is based on evidence that he produced designs for the building, while the more famous architect ...

Article

French family of cabinetmakers, antique dealers and collectors. The dynasty was founded by Jean Beurdeley (1772–1853), who, after service in Napoleon’s armies, opened a small antique shop in the Marais district of Paris and in 1830 bought the Pavillon de Hanovre, 28 Boulevard des Italiens, which was the Beurdeley firm’s principal gallery until 1894. His son (Louis-Auguste-) Alfred Beurdeley (1808–82) dealt in antiques and works of art and was also a cabinetmaker specializing in reproductions of 17th- and 18th-century furniture. His clients included Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie. Alfred Beurdeley’s illegitimate son (Emmanuel-) Alfred Beurdeley (b Paris, 11 Aug 1847; d Paris, 20 Nov 1919) took over the gallery and workshops in 1875 and until 1894 concentrated on making luxury furniture, continuing the models sold by his father. He was one of the most important Parisian cabinetmakers, winning a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in ...

Article

(b Paris, Jan 11, 1825; d Labbeville, Jan 8, 1906).

French collector. His collection (dispersed in sales between 1872 and 1906) comprised c. 1000 paintings as well as drawings, sculptures, furniture and objets d’art. Most of the paintings were of the Dutch, Flemish and German schools of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Among the most notable northern works were works by Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling, Jan van Eyck, Jan Gossart, Hendrick Goltzius and Meindert Hobbema. Paintings included Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Woman (1633) and Landscape with Obelisk (1638; Boston, MA, Isabella Stewart Gardner Mus.); Rubens’s Good Government Quelling the Demon of Discord (c. 1620–34; priv. col.) and Arion Saved by Dolphins (c. 1620–30; priv. col.); and Salomon van Ruysdael’s Quay View in Amsterdam (New York, Frick). French painting was represented by such works as Antoine Coypel’s Flora and Zephyrus; François-Hubert Drouais’s portrait of Madame de Pompadour (1763–4; London, NG); Jean-Siméon Chardin’s ...

Article

Rosamond Allwood

(fl London, 1865–82).

English furniture designer and manufacturer. He may have been trained by the Gothic Revival architect and furniture designer J. P. Seddon, whose work certainly influenced his first published design, a davenport in a geometric Reformed Gothic style, in the Building News of 1865. That year he also advertised a ‘New Registered Reclining Chair’, made by Marsh & Jones of Leeds, whose London showrooms were near his own premises off Cavendish Square. In 1865 Marsh & Jones supplied the Yorkshire mill-owner Sir Titus Salt with a large group of furniture, including a bedroom suite, and in 1867 with the case of an Erard grand piano (all Leeds, Temple Newsam House) designed by Bevan; described at the time as ‘medieval’, the pieces are decorated with geometric marquetry ornament. Bevan designed a bookcase for the Manchester firm James Lamb, which was shown in the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, and by the following year was also designing for ...

Article

Term used to describe the distinctive relief decoration commonly used on stucco, wood and other arts of the early Islamic period. Characterized by a slanted cut (Ger. Schrägeschnitt), the decoration usually consists of rhythmic and symmetrical repetitions of curved lines with spiral terminals. The style is first documented in the mid-9th century ad at the Abbasid capital of Samarraا in Iraq, where the walls of enormous mud-brick palaces were rendered with plaster, moulded or carved in three styles of relief decoration. Although two styles (A and B) preserve recognizable vegetal forms ultimately derived from Late Antique ornament, the third (C) or Bevelled style is far more abstract, and the traditional distinction between subject and ground has dissolved. The same style of decoration was also used at Samarraا for wooden furnishings, such as panels and doors and for other sculpted media, such as rock crystal.

The Bevelled style quickly became popular throughout the Abbasid realm: it is found, for example, at the ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

German family of decorative designers. Brothers Paul Amadeus (fl 1737–52) and Johann Adolf (fl c. 1743) both worked with the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés on Schloss Brühl, a German Electoral castle halfway between Bonn and Cologne; they worked on the interiors of the Falkenlust (...

Article

Bibelot  

Gordon Campbell

Article

Marsha L. Morton

A term applied to bourgeois life and art in Germanic Europe, an extensive area embracing such cities as Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Prague, from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) to the revolutions of 1848. It originated as a pseudonym, Gottlieb Biedermeier, created by Ludwig Eichrodt (1827–92) and Adolf Kussmaul (1822–1902) for publishing poetry in the Munich journal Fliegende Blätter between October 1854 and May 1857. The connotations of the German adjective bieder—plain, solid, unpretentious—pointed to the gently parodic function of these poems, which were based on the work of Samuel Friedrich Sauter (1766–1846), a Swabian schoolmaster and amateur versifier.

The Biedermeier period may very generally be divided into two phases, with the years around 1830 marking the moment of transition between a more restrained, cooler and more severe style (purer lines and more affinity to Neo-classicism in design, sparsely furnished interiors, and greater objectivity in painting) to a more complex, catholic and emotional one (greater historicism and eclecticism in design, more pattern and upholstery in interiors, and a more fluid style, greater sentimentality and the rise of anecdotal genre in painting). However, regional variation was very marked: the colour and drama of such Viennese genre scenes as ...

Article

Donna Corbin

(b Lacochère, Orne, April 29, 1764; d Paris, March 26, 1843).

French cabinetmaker and silversmith. The silver and silver-gilt produced in his workshop rivals that of his contemporaries Henri Auguste and Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot. By 1789 Biennais had established himself at 283, Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris, as a cabinetmaker and tabletier (a dealer in and maker of small objects). After 1797 Biennais, no doubt encouraged by the dissolution of the guild system, expanded his business to include the manufacture of silver. During the Consulate Biennais became Napoleon’s personal silversmith, although he may have provided Napoleon with silver as early as 1798, when it is said that he supplied him with a nécessaire de voyage prior to his Egyptian campaign (1798–1801) and trusted him to pay for it on his return.

Biennais produced large amounts of silver for Napoleon and his family, including, in 1804, the crown and sceptre for his coronation and a number of nécessaires of different types, remarkable for the combination of forms of varying shapes and sizes that are ingeniously accommodated in a restricted space. One (...

Article

Dwight C. Miller

(Maria)

(b Bologna, 1692; d Bologna, 1776).

Italian painter and stuccoist. He was largely self-taught yet gifted with exceptional talent—‘such praiseworthy qualities not the fruit of long toil but of gifts with which the painter was endowed’ (Zanotti)—and thus able to establish a position among the most highly reputed artists in Bologna of his time. He was chosen four times (1734; 1748; 1767; 1773) to be the director of the prestigious Accademia Clementina of Bologna. He began his career as a stuccoist. However, impressed by the art of the quadraturista Marcantonio Chiarini (1652–1730), whose large perspective paintings he saw while working at the Palazzo Almandini, he himself began to specialize in painting perspective effects. He studied Ferdinando Galli Bibiena’s L’architettura civile (Parma, 1711) and, profiting also from his experience as an assistant to a scenery designer, Carl Antonio Buffagnotti (1660–after 1715), soon became expert in this art and began to assist the established ...

Article

Fabian Stein

[Bühler]

German family of goldsmiths, furniture-makers and engravers. Lorenz Biller (i) (fl c. 1664–85) achieved prominence with works for Emperor Leopold I, for whom he made a centrepiece with a knight on a horse (1680–84; Moscow, Kremlin, Armoury) that was sent to Moscow as an ambassadorial gift. Lorenz Biller (i)’s sons, Johann Ludwig Biller (i) (1656–1732), Albrecht Biller (1663–1720) and Lorenz Biller (ii) (fl c. 1678–1726), supplied silverware of the highest quality to several German courts, especially that of Prussia, for which Albrecht made large wine-coolers and ‘pilgrim’ bottles (1698; Berlin, Schloss Köpenick). The strongly sculptural style of these pieces suggests familiarity with the work of Andreas Schlüter. Albrecht Biller’s abilities as a sculptor are also evident in his reliefs and in seven splendid silver vases he supplied to the court of Hesse-Kassel (c. 1700; Kassel, Hess. Landesmus.). The silver vases ordered by the court usually followed French fashions, yet the form and lavish decoration of these pieces are quite different. A pair of vases by ...

Article

Biombo  

Sofía Sanabrais

Name used in Mexico and throughout Latin America for a folding screen. The word biombo is a transliteration of the Japanese word for folding screen—byōbu—an acknowledgement of its place of origin. The Japanese byōbu has long been a quintessential example of Japanese art and was a common diplomatic gift to foreign courts in the early modern period (see Screen, §1). Referred to as the ‘face of Japanese diplomacy’, byōbu were presented as ambassadors of Japanese culture to places as far off as London and Mexico City. Byōbu also found their way to New Spain as exports in the Manila Galleon trade. In 17th-century Mexico the Japanese screen was admired by artists and patrons, and was adapted and reinterpreted on a grand scale. The unique format of the biombo provided new ways for artists to depict subject-matter, and locally made biombos began appearing in the archival record in the first years of the 17th century. ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Wood of the sugar maple when full of little knotty spots, used in cabinet-making. A bird’s eye veneer was originally one made from this maple, but the term is now used for veneer made from any light wood of similar appearance.

B. Keenan: ‘Bird’s eye Maple’, Fine Woodworking, 74 (Jan–Feb 1989), pp. 78–80...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Article

[Bombard]

Drinking vessel made of treated and stitched leather, in common use in England from the Middle Ages until the 18th century. Surviving examples, which date mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries, are sometimes mounted and, more rarely, lined with silver or pewter. They were typically coated externally with tar to make them watertight, and were made in various sizes, usually bottle- or cylinder-shaped with a characteristic bulge around the centre of the body and stamped decoration. In ...

Article

Christian Norberg-Schulz

Norwegian architectural and furniture design partnership formed in 1922 by Gudolf Blakstad (b Gjerpen, 19 May 1893; d Oslo, 1986) and Herman Munthe-Kaas (b Christiania [now Oslo], 25 May 1890; d Oslo, 5 March 1970). Blakstad was awarded his diploma as an architect at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim in 1916. He collaborated with Jens Dunker on the New Theatre, Oslo, from 1919 to 1929. After a preliminary training in Christiania, Munthe-Kaas finished his education at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1919.

From the beginning of their careers Blakstad and Munthe-Kaas played a leading role in Norwegian architecture. After studying in Italy in the early 1920s, they advocated Neo-classicism in architectural projects, furniture designs and writings. In 1922 they won the competition for the new Town Hall in Haugesund (1924–31), a major work of 20th-century Norwegian Neo-classicism. Above a powerfully rusticated basement, the long office wing with its regular fenestration contrasts with the higher City Council Hall, accentuated by pairs of monumental, free-standing columns. In general the effect is of robust strength and an exciting interplay of horizontals and verticals....

Article

Gordon Campbell

Design common in some of the finest American furniture of the 18th century, first developed in Boston in the 1730s and then built elsewhere in New England, including Rhode Island. The contours on the front of the cases were formed of three blocks, two convex blocks flanking a concave block. In the finest examples the drawer front is carved from a single piece of wood, which had originally to be very thick in order to accommodate the curves. The finest exponents of block front furniture were the Newport families of Goddard (see Goddard, John) and Townsend family.

M. A. Norton: ‘More Light on the Block Front’, Antiques, 3/2 (Feb 1923), pp. 63–6M. M. Lovell: ‘Boston Blockfront Furniture’, Boston Furniture of the Eighteenth Century, eds W. M. Whitehill, B. Jobeand J. L. Fairbanks (Boston, 1974), pp. 77–136P. D. Zimmerman and others: ‘An Important Block-front Desk by Richard Walker of Boston’, ...