Harvey Ellis - Design Masters New York Tuesday, December 14, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private residence, Thousand Islands, New York; Geoffrey Diner Gallery, Washington, D.C.; private Collection, New York

  • Literature

    “Structure and Ornament in the Craftsman Workshops” The Craftsman, January, 1904, p. 391; David Cathers, Genius in the Shadows, The Furniture Designs of Harvey Ellis, exh. cat., Jordan-Volpe Gallery, New York, 1981, fig. 3 for the side chair version; David Cathers, Stickley Style: Arts and Crafts Homes in the Craftsman Tradition, New York, 1999, pp. 91-93 for the armchair and other examples of Ellis’ inlaid furniture; Charlotte and Peter Fiell, 1900s-1910s Decorative Art, Cologne, 2000, p. 25; At Home with Gustav Stickley: Arts & Crafts from the Stephen Gray Collection, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hanover, 2008, p. 90 for a similar example  of inlay motif

  • Catalogue Essay


    The rebuttal of industrial production and machine-made design was well underway in the United Kingdom and Europe by the time Gustav Stickley opened his Craftsman Workshops in Eastwood, New York at the turn of the century. His meticulously crafted wood furniture and morally pervasive publication The Craftsman, which extolled the virtues of William Morris, John Ruskin and medieval guilds, quickly launched him as the face of the American Arts and Crafts movement. between 1900 and 1904, a period that is referred to as his early work, Stickley produced a line of “New furniture” which simultaneously espoused the anti-industrial tenets of his European counterparts while echoing the Modernist rejection of revivalism and unnecessarily decorative ornamentation. During this period, Stickley employed a select group of designers to create furniture out of “honest materials” and to develop the rectilinear woodworking constructions that would become iconic representations of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Harvey Ellis, an architect from Rochester, New York, was hired by Stickley in 1903 and quickly established a signature aesthetic with his intricate metal and exotic wood inlaid furniture. While seemingly antithetical to the Arts and Crafts approach of paring down needless decoration, the inlaid designs of Ellis were a welcome inclusion to the new line of furniture, being described by Stickley as a technique to fill too large a plain surface, and as integral to his fascination with the play between “light and shade” on his otherwise spare designs. Too labor-intensive and expensive to produce on a larger scale with the rest of Stickley’s handicrafts, these important inlaid works were additionally limited by Ellis’s untimely death seven months later. Despite such a short tenure at the firm, Ellis is frequently cited as one of the foremost masters of the American Arts and Crafts movement. The floral-patterned pewter and copper inlay in the present lot is testament to the movement’s importance in the history of American furniture design as well as to its craft revival.

45

Armchair

ca. 1903
Quarter-sawn white oak, pewter, copper, leather, cane.
43 5/8 in. (110.8 cm.) high
Produced by the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley, USA. Underside of one arm with red decal with “Als/ik/kan” and “Stickley” within the joiner’s compass United Crafts mark.

Estimate
$55,000 - 65,000 

Design Masters

15 December 2010
New York