Case Study of Stickley Furniture in the fluctuating market

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Here is a scholarly book for serious Arts and Crafts enthusiasts who want to really drill down into the history of the movement. We can thank the Rochester Institute of Technology for publishing this excellent collection of essays about the life and work of Claude Bragdon (1866-1946) by leading authorities in the field. Who was Claude Bragdon? He was many things, including a furniture designer for Gustav Stickley, a respected pre-modern architect, book designer, poster artist, theatre lighting and set designer, and abstract painter. Among his artistic achievements was being the first to set colors to music. Besides the informative essays, the book includes 100 pages of photos and illustrations, most in color, showing the full scope of Claude Bragdon's many artistic achievements. There is also a chronology of his life and a full bibliography of his many writings.

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Ellis's path and that of , the de facto leader of the American movement, eventually crossed, for Ellis, the president of the society, was in charge of installing Stickley's famous large 1903 Arts and Crafts exhibition in its Rochester venue, the . Shortly after that Ellis moved to Syracuse, New York, to join the expanding architecture department of Stickley's . A number of unsigned illustrations that appear in Stickley's magazine during the last half of 1903 have sometimes been attributed to Ellis. However, just six complete architectural designs (five were signed and one was unsigned); two signed projects that reside more in the realm of interior decoration than architecture per se; and one architectural essay devoid of illustrations were actually his work. Two of his paintings also appeared as frontispieces. Ellis depicted furniture in the interior perspectives and elevations of his residential designs, just as he had done in other situations, years earlier for Buffington for example. His intention was to demonstrate total aesthetic harmony between architecture and appropriate furnishings. There has never been a suggestion, then or now, that he designed the furniture he depicted for Buffington; however, long after their publication, his renderings began to be interpreted to mean that he designed the furniture as well as drew it. This idea overlooked the fact that Ellis had no experience as a furniture designer and had been hired to work in the architecture department. The lightly scaled furniture in most of his illustrations, which differed significantly from the massive items previously often seen in , reflected newer design trends that Stickley began to promote after his Arts and Crafts exhibition. It was more likely designed by employees in his furniture department, such as LaMont Warner, for example, who responded to items Stickley had collected for the exhibition.

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