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Artist / Maker : Stickley, Gustav ; American Craftsman (Manufacturer)
Title : Untitled (American Craftsman Chair)
Date (Execution) : c.1900
Geographical Origin : Eastwood, Syracuse, Onondaga, New York, United States
Cultural Group : American
Style / Period : Arts and Crafts
Medium / Material  : Wood; oak; rush slip seat
Support / Technique : joined
Object Type : side chairs
Visual Description : Oak chair with rush slip seat. The Craftsman Chair has become an iconic symbol of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, one of the most enduring legacies of its designer Gustav Stickley (1858-1942). Stickley is considered one of the foremost proponents of the movement in America at the turn of the last century,36 continuing the Arts and Crafts ethics of its founder, the British designer William Morris. Both men rejected the existing ornate and mass-produced furniture styles in favour of “honest” construction, reviving traditional English country designs as well as creative workshop environments for their craftsmen. The resulting clean, rectilinear form of the Craftsman chair is enlivened by five vertical spindles rising between the horizontal chair leg stretcher and the seat; square spindles were characteristic of both Stickley and Morris chairs.37 Above the woven rush seat, the central “splat”of the back features nine parallel spindles, spanning the distance between the lower and top horizontal rails. The lustrous beauty of the oak is not disguised by carvings or heavy varnish, but instead makes visible the warm tones of the wood and celebrates the joinery of a well- constructed chair. The condition of the woven rush seat reminds us that this chair has seen over a century of use. The intricately woven rushwork recalls those of the traditional Cotswold School, such as Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers, who at the end of the 1800s revived such country patterns, seen in these ladder-back chairs. Woven rush seats were an art in themselves. In 1907, Gimson wrote to fellow designer Philip Webb that the young men in his workshop wove rush seats from about a dozen traditional designs that were “so admirable” they deserved reproduction with no modification, and stated that “the making of them is pleasure enough.”38 The use of organic materials such as rushes and native woods throughout Arts and Crafts furniture was another way of bringing nature indoors, uniting beauty with function in honest furnishings that celebrated the simpler life. This would become a hallmark of Stickley designs, born out of Arts and Crafts and developed into his own distinctive Craftsman style. 36 Mark Alan Hewitt, “Gustav Stickley, and the American Arts and Crafts Movement,” West 86th, 19:1 2012. Accessed on-line Dec. 5, 2014: 37 Gene Lenert, “Craftsman-Style Comfort in a Morris Chair,” Fine Woodworking, Jul-Aug. 1993, 38-42 (39). 38 Greensted, An Anthology of the Arts and Crafts Movement, 57.
Accession # : M969.13.92
Width (cm) : 42.50
Height (cm) : 101.00
Depth (cm) : 0.00
Mandatory Credit : University of Victoria Acquisition Fund
Artist Statement :