Friday, September 27, 2013

F&M's Gothic Revival Chair

Franklin and Marshall's Gothic Revival heritage has been eclipsed by its 1920s Georgian makeover. A chair from the 1840s in the vaults of the Phillips Museum, thus, becomes increasingly interesting. It came to my attention at the beginning of the semester, while going through the museum vaults to pick three exceptional chairs to use for an interpretive exercise in my Methods in Art History (461) capstone seminar. Marissa Sobel (Art History alumna and Mellon Education Assistant Fellow) gave me a generous tour of the Phillips' furniture collection from which I picked three representative chairs (Chippendale, Gothic Revival, Rococo Revival). The task of the assignment was 1) to draw a measured elevation of the chair, 2) formally analyze the design of the chair, based on the elevation drawing, and 3) to think broadly about construction, decoration, and the role of furniture in constructing domestic identity.

When I give my students an assignment, I feel the responsibility to execute it myself, and show my students how I did  it. On Monday, I went down to the Phillips Museum to do a quick drawing of the Gothic Revival chair, which fits well into my research interests and my ongoing survey of the college's Gothic treasures (here), while also thinking about other Gothic Revival museum pieces (here). The drawing above is what I circulated to the students. I should also note that the students' drawings were very good, as well. An introductory drawing class is mandatory for our Art History majors, which is rare in most undergraduate programs. If we require our studio majors to take history, we should also require our history majors take studio. The drawing exercise proved to me the wisdom of that institutional requirement.

After pulling the chairs from the vault, Marissa also gave me all the information from the Phillips Museum's database (eHive), which I quote below. I am not sure of the chair's provenance. It may have come to us from the North Museum, or other collections in Lancaster.

EC1057: Gothic Armchair

The turned rear leg and posts have pairs of rings interrupted by ball turnings where other chair parts are joined. The posts terminate in ball and steeple finials. The upholstered back panel is arched at the top and scalloped along the bottom. An elaborately pierced crest rail has trefoil tracery and three finials, some of which are missing. The front legs and integral arm supports are turned like the rear posts. The turned arms have upholstered sections. Handholds are large balls. New York or Philadelphia.

Maker:  Unknown
Date Made:  1840s
Place Made:  U.S.A.
Medium and Materials:  Walnut/unidentified hardwood
Measurements:  53 x 35 x 21 inches

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pugin on Hinges

On the structural advantages of medieval door hinges (fig. 3) over modern door hinges (fig. 2)
A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pugin on Weathering Slopes

A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841), 17-18.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pugin on Pinnacles

A. W. Pugin, The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (London, 1841), 10.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States