Archive for the Huntington Category

Sabbath chair/Hunzinger, week 12

Posted in 19th cent., chair, Fashion-art, Huntington, Hunzinger, Renaissance Revival on May 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

I have been mad for Hunzinger since I stumbled upon one of his screwball chairs at my beloved Huntington, close to home in beautiful Pasadena.

I frankly had never seen anything so peculiar, what was he doing with all of that “knobby” work, the chair appeared articulated, I had an intense desire to fold up the Renaissance Revival monstosity, stow it under my arm, and take the thing home.

Instead I present this monstrous beauty from the Brooklyn Museum.


George Jacob Hunzinger


born Germany


Ebonized wood, castors (always a sucker for castors),

original upholstery


approx. dimensions 43x26x28

The shredded yellow fabric is original, had been purple damask. Of course it was purple.

Another example of his wacky designs, this too looks like it should articulate, from the description, it doesn’t appear to. Some of Hunzinger’s designs do fold, perhaps it was an aesthetic he admired and pursued.

I love the machine made quality of the piece, although highly ornamented in the Renaissance Revival style, it still doesn’t hide the mechanical qualitiy of the chair. It calls to mind the current fad for Steam Punk, the hybrid expression of 19th century surface ornament with Industrial Revolution’s engineering. This chair shares that aesthetic, and I love it .

My Beloved dismisses it as a “failed experiment”, as in so often the case when it comes to taste, he is quite wrong.

I can’t resist sharing the first Hunzinger,snapped with my phone, as I mentioned it is held by the Huntington Museum.


walnut, gilding. brass, brocaded fabric


Good Shabbos

Exciting News For L.A.

Posted in furniture, Huntington, mackmurdo on February 23, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Huntington museum in Pasadena has long been a treasure to L.A. and it’s inhabitants. It offers bucolic beauty, architectural grandeur, stunning gardens, the roses seduce one and all. But for me the real treasure is it’s art collection, a comprehensive collection of grand English portrait painting, most 18th cent. plus so much more.

I was tickled to find a very wonderful collection of the English Arts and Crafts Movement; I expected  the Pasadena school of prairie inspired Craftsman,which they do indeed represent admirably. The American Craftsman movement  however lacks the narrative and decorative qualities that I so love in the English Craftsman tradition. I encourage everyone to check out this treasured collection, I plan to feature a few favorite pieces in the near future.

That said, Huntington and LACMA made a recent joint acquisition, The  Chair,which I refer to as the Whiplash chair  is a forerunner of the Art Nouveau movement. The chair designed by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851-1942), was made in 1882 of mahogany, leather, and painted decoration. It was created for the Century Guild, and only five exist. What is clear is the visual reference to the  title page for  “Wren’s City Churches”, which was designed by Mackmurdo.

title page design for

“Wren’s City Churches”


What a boon for this City of Angels. Are we civilized yet?

If you notice, you will discover the wonderful whiplash movement of the odd foliate matter, seaweed, poppies, grasses?

Doesn’t matter, sheer lovely inventiveness.

I am just so happy to have this in my adopted city, I so often pine for my favorite treasures at the Met and the Phila. Art museum, now I have a local treasure.

I look forward to sharing some of my favorite local oddball holdings.