Archive for the Renaissance Revival Category

Gems of the Centennial Exhibition, part I

Posted in 19th cent., Allen & Bros., Centennial Exhibition, furniture, Gothic Revival, Minton, Neo Grec, Philadelphia, Renaissance Revival, Tiffany & Comp. on July 29, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As I am always keen on the topics of Design Exhibitions and my beloved Philadelphia, I was very pleased when the exhibition catalog “Gems of the Centennial Exhibition” became available.

I have been aware of miscellaneous objects created for our Exhibition, but to tap into contemporary criticism is a great privilege.

If you wish to take a peek, follow this link,Gems of the Centennial Exhibition .

Part of the  fun is to be able to find clues as to why certain design decisions were made. I can think of no other time in which peculiar little quirks drive me mad. Other centuries seem to have allowed reason and conventional notions of beauty  to influence aesthetic decisions. The 19th century, in it’s mad dash quest for novelty, progress, and historicism , produced many perplexing details.

Once such example is this Neo Grec  centre table.

Centre Table
Messrs. Allen & Brother
Philadelphia, Pennsyslvania
ca. 1875
Cherry with opaque white paint, marble.
approx. dimensions 32x45x30
Brooklyn Museum
Although this particular piece was not exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition, Messrs. Allen & Bros. did exhibit two equally peculiar cabinets.
I admire the Neo Grec treatment of ivory paint, the incised decoration being gilded, the attempt at restraint.. Although aspiring for Classical refinement. I find the legs with their scrolling vine work to be in the Neo Gothick style of the Audsley Bros. From my perspective, this centre table is a hybrid Neo Greco-Neo Gothick.
But I digress, back to peculiar design decisions.
The curtain rod rings, why? Was fabric to be hung? That would conceal the handsome palmette on the brace. If it had been a folio cabinet containing  light sensitive watercolours  and engravings, perhaps a hanging would make sense, but this is a centre table. Perhaps a decorative lambrequin-like hanging was employed. It is puzzling.
I was unable to find an answer, just another peculiar example in the “Gems of the Centennial…”
Pardon the quality, I scanned it myself, rather poorly.
What is apparent on this cabinet are the rings. Once again employed as a decorative motif, once again making no apparent sense,although this time they appear fixed, merely a conventional treatment. This particular image is on page 145.
Not a great mystery, just one of those little peculiarities that fascinates and piques  the interest of this Victoriana Nerd.

On to other objects listed in the “Gems”.

This great beauty by Tiffany has been making the rounds of the more exuberant blogs, chateauthombeau.blogspot.com. It is certainly a treasure.
Fruit Dish in Silver, by Messrs. Tiffany & Co., New York
And here it is , page 15,
A great favorite of mine is this circular settee.
by Marchand?
Paris
The text does not attribute the maker, although the photo seems to say by Marchand.
The text of “Gems…” goes on to describe this marvel of the up-holster’s art as being 14 feet high, 10 feet in diameter. It is in the Renaissance style, and covered in green satin. I would have thought charcoal from the image.This bit of fantasy is topped with a functioning fountain of red marble and bronze, lovely with the green satin.To finish off the confection”the whole is gracefully surmounted by a chandelier of fifty burners.” I love the purple prose, I love the setee.
A lovely Aesthetic Movement chimney piece follows.
Love the lady casually reading, oblivious to the maddening crowd.
and now, pg. 97
This fascination with contemporary images and responses may appear silly, it most likely is. But it helps to answer a few of the oddball questions I have whenever I gaze upon a 19th century room;particularly one before the Reform Movement had great influence. With the endless draping of mantle pieces, jardinieres, “artistic” easels, and Turkish Corners, I am often puzzled . The “Gems of the Centennial Exhibition” puts the period in context.
I end with a few gems that had exhibited at the Exhibition.
“Monumental Centerpiece”
Minton
made for “76 Exhibition
27″w x 24″d x 33 1/2″h
Wilson Sewing Machine
LOVE the Herter Bros. influence on so modest a piece of “furniture”.
Burdett Organ
trade card
BTW,
the proper title of the catalog is as follows:
Gems of the Centennial Exhibition:Consisting of Illustrated Descriptions of Objects of an Artistic Character, in the Exhibits of the United States, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Russia, Japan, China
Perhaps the most exuberant title ever.
The poor dears were really trying to prove their legitimacy.
Good Night

The Palace, a Los Angeles treasure

Posted in 20th century, architecture, Broadway. Los Angeles, Los Angeles Noir, Palace Theatre, Renaissance Revival on July 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Everyday, whether it is going to class or the gym, I drive down old Vaudeville on Broadway.

The Beloved accuses me of masochism, the teeming masses of base humanity, the squalor, the general degradation, all place a dark cloud on one’s soul.

But my eyes look upward, to the movie palaces, the LosAngeles, the Million Dollar,, the imposing Tower,and  the enchanting decrepit Pantages with it’s ungainly griffins.But none capture my imagination like the Palace.

630 S.Broadway

Los Angeles

Opening as a Vaudeville theatre on June 26th 1911, it was initially the Orpheum (a much lovelier name);traces of the word Orpheum are visible on the southern entrance, thievery?”renovation”? a loss. Orpheum is also pride of place over the entrance.

What is most enchanting about the Palace, built in the Renaissance Revival fashion, is it’s poly-chromed facade, most specifically the four allegorical panels.

I am making the assumption the panels represent aspects of vaudeville and not film.

The Muse of Comedy?, Vaudeville? Buffoonery?

Muse of Song?, this particular figure always calls to mind Sarah Bernhardt.

the lovely spirit of Dance?

Play-writes?

The panels were created by Domingo Mora, apparently his son was responsible for the equally fantastic ornament of the Million Dollar down the street.

The color and detail of the facade is dazzling, I am amazed I have not rear ended another vehicle with my gawking. It is the most wonderful frosting in town.

I have been particularly enchanted with the light fixtures, they are surmounted with the most wonderful, almost cartoon-like butterflies. Why were they chosen? I do know butterflies are an emblem of the Soul, Art=Soul?

Haven’t a clue, they are a treasure, and fortunately out of reach of thugs and scrap thieves.

I love the sherbet colouring.

I so love this building, that I was inspired to put pastel to paper, I had hoped to capture some of the spirit. This modest offering is the Muse of Vaudeville.

Good Night

A Passion for Renaissance Revival

Posted in 1851 Great Exhibition, 19th cent., furniture, Memphis, Renaissance Revival, Sambin, sideboards on June 4, 2010 by babylonbaroque

The cumbersome and ungainly, always a personal passion. The more I explore the decorative and fine arts, architecture, music, or fashion, the more drawn I am to the overwrought, the over-stated.

WHEN I worked, I would inwardly cringe as a client , most often a second tier designer, would pedantically explain to me “that less is more” ;  code for “we haven’t the budget”.

In celebration of abundance, I present the following extravaganzas.Sideboard 1854

Several years back, 2005-2007, the Getty Center, presented a show, “A Renaissance Cabinet Rediscovered”. They bent over backwards trying to claim the legitimacy of a piece that Getty purchased ages ago. His advisors claimed it was a fake, he went with his gut, and it is now believed to actually be 16th cent. with late 19th century additions.

French

ca. 1580, with late 19th. cent. additions

walnut, oak, paint, brass, iron, linen and silk liing

approx. 10 ‘x 6’x 2’

Getty Collection

I didn’t particularly care, I would have actually preferred the 19th century fake. I love how the Renaissance was interpreted in the mid to late part of the century.

French 19th century

Shown at Great exhibition 1851

The monumental sideboard, the darling of the social climbing nouveau riche, was often based upon designs inspired by the architect, sculptor, designer, Hugues Sambin of Dijon. The following are a few of his wildly inventive designs.

Images ca. 1572-73

I searched for pieces attributed by Sambin and came up rather short.  I will explore in more depth. I predict I will enjoy the renderings more them the finished carvings if the following panel is any indication.

Figurative panel

French ca. 1560

V&A

Now on to what I truly love, mis-guided mis- interpretations of Renaissance propriety.

Sideboard

ca. 1855

Black walnut

Alexander Roux, 1813-1886

American, born France

approx. 49″x$9″x 24″

Brooklyn Museum

I’m particularly drawn to the hunt motif, the addition of a hare head of great interest to me.

Sideboard

ca. 1870

Gerrard Robinson

carved oak, mirror glass, and brass handles

Victoria & Albert

Another whimsical piece by Robinson, also in the V&A, a sideboard with the peculiar theme of Robinson Crusoe.

Sideboard

Carved oak, upper part pine with oak veneer

English, signed and dated 1857

Gerrard Robinson

This is apparently the first known piece by Robinson, with a quirky subject which he re-explores in a piece shown at the International Exhibition of ’62. I have to research that.

To conclude I present another sideboard. also of the More Is Better school of design. I first saw this piece in Philadelphia, soon after production. I am still ambivalent, but I still want it.

Casablanca Sideboard

Memphis 1980-85

Milan

wood, plastic laminate

Brooklyn Museum

Enjoy your weekend.

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.

Chair

George Jacob Hunzinger

American

born Germany

1835-1898

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

original upholstery

1869

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.

Chair

walnut, gilding. brass, brocaded fabric

1869

Good Shabbos