Louis Comfort Tiffany and Samuel Colman Aesthetic Movement Carved and Parcel Gilt Ash Settee
Designed for the Music Room in the Louisine and Henry Osborne Havemeyer mansion, New York, circa 1890-91
In the Near Eastern style, the double arched crest densely decorated with peacocks nestled and feeding amongst meandering stylized tendrils, leaves and various species of blossoms, above a reeded spindle back flanked by conforming stiles, continuing to gently curved arms and a padded seat, raised on tapering reeded legs joined by stretchers and conforming side spindles and ending in claw and glass ball feet. Height 33 3/8 inches, width 67 3/4 inches, depth 27 3/4 inches.
Louisine and Henry O. Havemeyer were influential and enthusiastic art collectors and patrons during America's Gilded Age. Henry Osborne Havemeyer (1847-1907) made his vast fortune in sugar refining, and his second wife, the former Louisine Waldron Elder (1855-1929) was a suffragette, philanthropist and art collector, whose taste was influenced in part by her close friend Mary Cassatt. The imposing Havemeyer mansion on Fifth Avenue at 66th Street, completed in 1892, featured interiors that were a marked departure from the French revival styles preferred by the Havemeyer's social peers. They chose New York designers Louis Comfort Tiffany and Samuel Colman to create interiors that would showcase their extensive and diverse collection. The resulting design would herald a uniquely American Aesthetic style, incorporating exotic elements from Japanese, Indian, Islamic and natural motifs in unusual and fresh applications.
The suite of carved and gilded furniture designed by Tiffany and Colman for the Havemeyer mansion's Music Room was inspired by Near Eastern design and decorated with elaborately carved floral patterns recalling Indian motifs. Although the mansion was razed in 1930, the craftsmanship and artistry of Tiffany and Colman can still be appreciated in the current settee from the Music Room, which has descended in the family to the consignor.
Six other items from the Tiffany and Colman designed suite of furniture from the Music Room are known to survive. An identical settee, rectangular table, square table, armchair and side chair are now in the collection of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. The Shelburne Museum was founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), the youngest of the Havemeyer's three children. These pieces were gifted in 1974 to the museum by her nephew, George G. Frelinghuysen (1911-2004), son of the eldest of the Havemeyer's children, Adaline, and her husband, Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen. A third settee is reputedly still in the family.
A pair of armchairs from the Havemeyer mansion's Rembrandt Room survive, one of which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
An additional offering from the same consignor and also formerly in the Havemeyer Collection is an exquisite pastel and chalk rendering of a Venetian palazzo by James A. M. Whistler, to be featured in the auction of American Art on May 9.
Louisine and Henry O. Havemeyer, by descent to their daughter
Adaline Havemeyer Frelinghuysen, by descent to her son
The Honorable Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, by descent to his son
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