Adapted from an 1897 catalogue of the Chicago Architectural Club
This work was used as the illustration for the opening page of that catalogue's exhibition, p. 11.
Although the pyrographic artists cited here were less well known than J. William Fosdick, research eventually revealed that there was a substantial number of these artists working in the pyrographic technique at a highly professional level, alongside the architects that were shaping New York and other cities in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This list of the artists and their works was originally in the Antique Hall, but as it grew progressively larger and more impressive, it simultaneously became too cumbersome. For this reason, it has been brought here to this salon to allow this important documentation to prevail without its becoming an obstacle to the flow of the Antique Hall. Although the list may be cumbersome, it is exciting to know that so many artists and so many great works are still out there to discover and appreciate.
In some cases works of unknown technique are listed, sometimes even in cases where it is probable they are not pyrographic works. In part, this was done in order to show the versatility of these artists, who are sometimes known in other fields. It is also to demonstrate that with their broad understanding of design, art, architecture, and philosophy, their appreciation of the pyrographic art form was not diminished but rather enhanced.
Claude Fayette Bragdon of Rochester, New York, was principally an architect by profession, and many of his sketches, renderings, and designs were listed in the various catalogues of architectural groups of his time. Many works by him in various art media were found cited in the catalogues of New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago architectural exhibitions. Only one work in pyrography has been found illustrated, and that is the work above entitled "SALVE," found on p. 11 (linked above). Following that, on pages 14–15 are listed the wide variety of works by C. F. Bragdon shown at that exhibition, including three in pyrography, entries 82–84. The last one, i.e., the catalogue illustration shown above, is entered vaguely as "Burnt Wood Panel, Renaissance Design." His autobiography: Secret Springs By Claude Fayette Bragdon was published in 2003 and can be previewed at the link here. He co-authored the English translation of Tertium Organum, a Russian book on philosophy—and wrote a 7-page introduction to it, as well. Also published in 2003, is his book entitled Arch Lectures: Eighteen Discourses on a Great Variety of Subjects. Included in that book is a list of additional writings by Bragdon, notable among them his 1913 book Projective Ornament.
Harriet Keith Fobes was an expert in hand-wrought jewelry and authored a book in 1924 entitled Mystic Gems. She also wrote a series of "how to" articles on burnt work in 1895 for the Delineator Magazine.
Along with J. Wm. Fosdick, who is featured in his own large 19th Century subsection in the Antique Hall, are eight artists cited along with their works in the 1902 catalogue of the Architectural League of New York. Following is the impressive list of those nine artists, whose pyrographic works were accepted for display in one of the most prestigious professional exhibitions of that time in the United States:
-- J. William Fosdick, FIRE ETCHING. Decorative Adaptation of Gerard's Napoleon. West Gallery.
Heading this list is an excerpt from a 1902 New York Times article covering that Architectural League Exhibition. It talks about Fosdick's change in technique and mentions Harriet K. Fobes, as well.
"Color has invaded the pyrographic art of J. W. Fosdick, who shows in the West Gallery an adaptation of the painting by Girard of Napoleon the Great as Emperor, very richly treated in gold and colors after the outlines have been burned on the wood."
"...burned work on wood and leather by Miss Harriet K. Fobes, and a fine carved oak chest by Mrs. Emily Butterworth are further exhibits in the West Gallery more or less glowing with colors."
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, SCREEN of Leather and Wood. Burnt Work—design of dogwood. Entrance Hall.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, BELLOWS in Burnt Work. Design: peacock feathers. Dyes burned into wood. West Gallery.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, TEA TRAY.* Design from Stone Carving on Laon [sic—Lyon?] (Cathédrale). West Gallery.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, FRUIT BOWL of Leather and Wood. Design of Poinsettia. Burnt work and dyes. East Gallery.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, PANEL—For House of Mrs. R. Shaw, Glen Cove, L. I. Sketch in Normandy. Burnt work and dyes. South Gallery.
-- William Fuller Curtis, "The Coming of Night." West Gallery.
(The technique was not noted for this work; however, it has since been discovered in a 1903 article and confirmed as a pyrographic work. See the article William Fuller Curtis, Pyrographer at the link here. The image is shown as the lead image for that article, and the description of it is on p. 293. Another work by Wm. F. Curtis entitled "Love and Labor Glorifying Life" was cited in the 1904 catalogue of the Architectural League of N.Y., and that work is also in the article linked here. See eight salons of this artist's works here in the E-Museum's Antique Hall.)
In a larger critique on the Architectural League's 1902 show in the International Studio Magazine were two paragraphs dedicated to Fosdick and Curtis, respectively. The first (unlike the critique quoted above) was a very unfavorable one of J. Wm. Fosdick's Napoleon, and the second an overall very complimentary one of Wm. F. Curtis's The Coming of Night but with a sharp criticism of his cutwork in the background. The critic's name is not known. The critique was found in the supplement of that issue, as follows:
"We are familiar with J. William Fosdick's fire etchings, and have always known him as a staunch supporter of simply firing and staining so as to preserve as far as possible the qualities of the wood. In this adaptation of Gerard's Napoleon, however, he has painted the imperial robe of crimson, and duly blackened the tags upon the ermine. Consistency is not necessarily a virtue, but in this particular instance of inconsistency many will be disposed to agree that Mr. Fosdick has been unfortunate. The panel as it stands is neither a picture nor the translation of a picture into burnt wood, but a combination of both which secures the essential qualities of neither, —a sadly gaudy, uncraftsmanlike arrangement. "
"How very superior in quality and character is the long panel frieze, The Coming of Night, by William Fuller Curtis ! A number of figures in swirling draperies are shown to a little above the waist against a foliage background ; and while the draperies and tree forms are colored in tones of brown, the flesh parts and sky are left a warm ivory, almost the color of the wood itself. The combination of tints is decidedly pleasing, and the lines and masses of the composition have much ampleness and freedom of graceful movement. A device, however, has been adopted in the background which seems scarcely desirable. It would appear that the main body of the wood has been perforated at certain places, the apertures being backed by little panels, showing small tree forms against the sky. This feature struck me as tricky and trivial in comparison with the bold simplicity that characterized the rest of the decoration. For the actual device one could find justification in some of the fine carved woodwork of the Japanese, so that it is its applicability in the present design that I am questioning ; and I hardly think that a Japanese would have associated with a decoration so large and free in feeling as the main part of this design, a detail that is by comparison so puny and irrelevant."
-- H. Revere Johnson, SCREEN. Decoration in Color and Burnt Work. Room at Right of Entrance Hall.
-- H. Revere Johnson, HALL CHEST. Burnt Work and Color. East Gallery.
-- Charles C. Waterbury, "DEER" burnt wood panel to be set in wall. West Gallery
-- Estelle M. Burdick, BURNT PANEL. Scandinavian Ornament. West Gallery.
-- Nancy Barrows, BURNT LEATHER TABLE COVER. West Gallery.
-- Ethel Hore, BURNT WOOD PANEL. West Gallery.
-- Harriette Amsden, CHEST—Decorated with Burning and Color. East Gallery.
Since the discovery of the artists and works cited above, additional listings were found for some of the same artists plus some new ones in the 1903 and 1904 catalogues—along with one illustration—for the Architectural League of New York, as follows:
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, GRAPE PLAQUE, Burnt Work and Dyes.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, "The Sea Horse." Burnt Work on Wooden Shield.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, "Horse Rampant." Burnt Decoration on Leather Covered Shield.
All three pieces were displayed in the Gallery Right of Entrance.
-- Gertrude C. Fosdick, Decorated Tea Tray.*
Noted here, although her technique was not specified, because, although she was known as a sculptor, she was the wife of J. Wm. Fosdick. Research is underway to learn more about this piece.
-- Harriette Amsden Lyon, BRIDAL CHEST.*
-- Harriette Amsden Lyon, "OLEANDER."*
-- Harriette Amsden Lyon, "CHERRY PLUMS."*
Note the name change since her 1902 listing.
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, A GERMAN COAT-OF-ARMS.*
-- Harriet Keith Fobes, A GERMAN COAT-OF-ARMS.*
Listed separately with two different numbers (260 and 268)
-- William Fuller Curtis, "HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL." (Illustrated in the 1903 catalogue; see it here in the Wm. Fuller Curtis Salon in the Antique Hall).
-- E. M. Gulesch, PANEL—BURNT LEATHER.
Note that she also exhibited two other works listed as carved: a panel and a portfolio.
(O. P. Staber, aka Ottilie P. Staber, also Mrs. William Scott Douglas)
-- O. P. Staber, TWO PANELS IN POKER-WORK DECORATION FOR DINING ROOM.
-- O. P. Staber, POKER-WORK DECORATION ON A HALL CHAIR.
-- O. P. Staber, PANEL FOR MANTEL TOP IN POKER WORK.
-- Sylvia Sewell, BURNT WOOD TABLE TOP.
-- 593 J. William Fosdick, "THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS"—Decoration for House of Wm. T. Evans, Montclair. (See it here in a 1909 J. Wm. Fosdick Salon in the Antique Hall)
-- 244. LOTUS FRAME ON PLASTER CAST OF "THE YOUNG CLEOPATRA."
Frame, Harriet Keith Fobes; Cast, F. Edwin Elwell.*
-- 248. TRAY—Tulip Design in Burnt Work and Dyes. Harriet Keith Fobes.
-- 249. BELLOWS—Italian Design. Harriet Keith Fobes.*
-- 270. LEATHER PANEL FOR DECORATIVE PURPOSES—Grape Design. Harriet Keith Fobes.*
-- 271. PEACOCK FEATHER DESIGN ON FRAME. Harriet Keith Fobes.*
-- 380. TROUSSEAU CHEST—Done in Burnt Work. Harriet Keith Fobes.
-- 003. "AUTUMN" Harriette Amsden.*
-- 195. CHRYSANTHEMUMS. Harriette Amsden.*
-- 200. RED ROOFS. Harriette Amsden.*
-- 206. BOOK COVERS. Harriette Amsden.*
-- 272. TRAY IN BURNT WOOD. Harriette Amsden.
-- 311. A DESIGN IN BURNT VELVET. Harriette Amsden.
-- 350. BOOK PLATES. Harriette Amsden.*
-- 251. SELLING FUR—Decorative Panel for a Fur Store. R. R. v. Thadden.*
-- 252. BURNT WOOD DECORATIVE PANEL—To be Set in a Screen. (After an Unknown Master of the 18th Century.) R. R. von Thadden.
-- 276. ARMS AND CREST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON—Burnt Velvet. R. R. v. Thadden.
-- 243. SCENE FROM A GREEK PLAY. Decoration in Burnt Wood. Raphael A. Weed.
-- 290. DESIGN FOR BURNT LEATHER PORTFOLIO. Margaret C. Uhl.
-- 375. BOOK PLATES. Claude Fayette Bragdon.*
-- 222. BOOK COVERS. Claude Fayette Bragdon.*
-- 103. CEILING SKETCH. Paul Schramm.*
* Because no technique is indicated, this work may not be a pyrographic work.
The Adolph Lewisohn Residence, New York
Digital image from a catalogue of the Architectural League of New York.
Along with J. Wm. Fosdick, who is featured in his own large 19th Century subsection in the Antique Hall, are three artists cited along with their works in the 1899 catalogue of the Architectural League of New York. Following are the listings for Fosdick and those three artists, whose pyrographic works were accepted for display in one of the most prestigious professional exhibitions of that time in the United States:
-- J. William Fosdick, 129. MURAL PAINTING—THE VIRGIN OF WISDOM.
-- J. William Fosdick, 269. FIRE ETCHING—DECORATIVE PANEL.
-- J. William Fosdick, 270. FIRE ETCHING FOR RESIDENCE OF ADOLPH LEWISOHN.
The artist himself described this work commissioned for the Lewisohn residence (see picture above) in his 1909 article in Country Life Magazine, as follows:
"In the billiard-room of Mr. Adolph Lewisohn the entire background of a German Renaissance overmantel panel is beaten in gold, which offers a striking contrast to the deeply burned heraldic mantling. A decorative head of a woman of the Durer epoch occupies the centre of the panel, which is about 4 x 6 ft."
-- J. William Fosdick, 271. FIRE ETCHING—DECORATIVE PANEL.
-- Paul Schramm, 310. FANCY HEAD—PYROGRAPHY.
-- Raphael A. Weed, 293. BURNT WOOD PANEL—"THE PIRATE."
-- Raphael A. Weed, 316. SUGGESTION FOR BURNT WOOD PANEL, WITH IVORY INLAY.
-- Raphael A. Weed, 317. BURNT WOOD PANEL, AFTER DESIGN BY R. ANNING BELL.
-- R. R. von Thadden, 300. PORTRAIT IN PYROGRAVURE ON SOLID MAPLE.
-- R. R. von Thadden, 420. BENCH FOR A PIANO, IN PYROGRAVURE ON HARDWOOD VENEER.**
** UPDATE: July 2010: Where there is a piano bench it seems there should be a piano. This is the first thought of anyone seeing the above entry for Reinhold R. von Thadden's piano bench. Of course, the difficulty of transporting and setting up a piano for exhibition is the reason that comes to mind for showing only a piano bench. Since there was no catalogue illustration for the bench, the E-Museum's Research Department was naturally delighted to find instead what is likely the missing piano. An elaborately decorated 1898 piano by this artist is displayed and described in detail at the link here to an E-Museum exhibit of excerpts from The Music Trade Review. It was a commissioned work, decorated to celebrate the fifty-thousandth piano manufactured by Hardman, Peck & Co. of New York.
Baron Reinhold R. von Thadden, an 1899 Self-portrait of the artist was found in a separate issue of The Music Trade Review the following year (also exhibited in the E-Museum at this link). This article also cites the disposition of the famous piano executed by him the previous year.
Raphael A. Weed, whose address was listed as 338 West 21st Street, showed:
- 358 FIRE ETCHING : DECORATIVE PANEL, CENTRAL PANEL, AFTER E. A. ABBEY.
- 387 FIRE ETCHING--DECORATIVE PANEL.
- 245 DESIGNS FOR BOOK COVERS.*
Paul Schramm, whose address was listed as 208 East 13th Street, showed:
- 405 WATER LILY, WOOD BURNING.
- 31. SKETCH FOR A CEILING.*
*Because no technique is indicated, this work may not be a pyrographic work.
Along with J. Wm. Fosdick, who is featured in his own large 19th Century subsection in the Antique Hall, are two artists cited along with their works in the 1897 catalogue of the Architectural League of New York. Following are the listings for Fosdick and those two artists, whose pyrographic works were accepted for display in one of the most prestigious professional exhibitions of that time in the United States:
Caption:Portrait Decoration in Burnt Wood. By J. W. M. Fosdick (Curator\u2019s Note on Name Error: Artist\u2019s name was often written as J. Wm. Fosdick, and here was apparently misinterpreted by the typesetter for the catalogue.)
Note that, although neither the caption nor the listing specified the subject of the portrait, the original (very large) panel that matches the illustration here, is exhibited as Chicago Architectural Club exhibition catalogue as designs for stained glass windows.
Along with J. Wm. Fosdick, who is featured in his own very large 19th Century subsection, are two artists cited along with their works in the 1893–1896 combined Catalogue of the Architectural League of New York. Following are the listings for Fosdick and those two artists, whose pyrographic works were accepted for display in one of the most prestigious professional exhibitions of that time in the United States:
J. William Fosdick:
45 CHIMNEY FRIEZE IN BURNT WOOD—A MARRIAGE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
518 BURNT WOOD DECORATIVE FREIZE. The Field of the Cloth of Gold. Original composition etched on wood with red hot metal points. Loaned by J. William Fosdick. Price, $500.
19 DECORATIVE PORTRAIT IN BURNT WOOD. LOUIS XIV. Adapted from existing portraits. Price, $600.
20 SET OF CHIMNEY PANELS IN BURNT WOOD. "A MARRIAGE IN THE MIDDLE AGES." (Catalogue Illustration)
120 BURNT WOOD COMPOSITION. "ADORATION OF ST. JEANNE D'ARC."
404 CARTOON FOR LIBRARY PANEL IN BURNT WOOD. (Catalogue Illustration)
Cartoon for Library Panel by J. William Fosdick
Adapted from the 1893–1896 Catalogue of the New York Architectural League of New York
O. P. Staber (aka Ottilie P. Staber, also Mrs. William Scott Douglas):
388–389 TWO PANELS IN POKER-WORK DECORATION FOR DINING ROOM.
408 PANEL FOR MANTEL TOP IN POKER WORK.
439 POKER-WORK DECORATION ON A HALL CHAIR.
E. M. Gulesch:
253 PANEL—BURNT LEATHER.
Two other works for Miss E. M. Gulesch are found on this page:
243 Carved Panel and
244 Carved Portfolio.
If you have either any questions to ask or any information to offer regarding these works or others by these artists who exhibited at the Architectural League of New York in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, please e-mail the E-Museum Curator.
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