Published: June 17, 2016
PALM HARBOR, FLA. — “Important objects from the Blacker House are extremely rare. I took advantage of the opportunity and acquired three pieces that will be added to five other Greene & Greene objects from the Blacker House, the Cole Residence and the Libby Residence,” said Two Red Roses Foundation (TRRF) President Rudy Ciccarello.
The work of the iconic architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene has been well documented for more than a century. Their residential designs in Pasadena, Calif., starting around 1904, are recognized as their most creative masterworks. The Gamble, Thorsen, Culbertson, Pratt and the spectacular Blacker houses were all built during this relatively short-lived period (1904–1910). The Blacker commission, in particular, gave the Greenes the financial freedom and opportunity to put their distinctive and eclectic design vocabulary on full display. Metal and wood light fixtures, leaded-glass panels that enhanced doors and windows and, incredibly, more than 50 pieces of furniture, all of their own design, graced the 12,000-square-foot estate.
The three rare examples of furniture from the Blacker house acquired by TRRF are all in original and pristine condition and represent not only the creative genius of Greene & Greene, but also the ideals, philosophy and principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement itself.
The pieces include a Greene & Greene chiffonier and matching vanity, both circa 1908, for the dressing room of the Blacker House. The chiffonier is listed in a house inventory from the 1940s, and an original design drawing is found in Charles Sumner Greene’s papers at the University of California, Berkeley. Both pieces possess the artistically inspired use of Honduran mahogany, ebony, mirrored glass, patinated brass hardware, copper, pewter and mother-of-pearl and ash inlays, and represent both a utilitarian demonstration of furniture as well as two wonderful examples of architectural art.
Greene & Greene also designed two known sofa models for the living room of the Blacker House. The TRRF’s sofa was likely conceived and produced around 1913, during which time several other modifications were made to the house by the Greenes at the request of the Blackers. The use of strategically appointed ebony inlays, upturned armrest corners and straight legs with a distinctive U-shaped design above the sofa feet all work together seamlessly, fashioning yet another remarkable example of living room furniture. Once again, Greene & Greene have used the combination of extraordinary design, exotic woods, and impeccable craftsmanship to create a timeless work of art.
The pieces will be among the architectural works in the TRRF collection that will be displayed in the future Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. “An entire area of the second floor gallery — we informally call it ‘the architectural floor’ — has been dedicated to Greene & Greene to include the entire entry hall of the James A. Culbertson House,” said Ciccarello.
Groundbreaking for the new museum is scheduled for mid-October, and it will take 24–26 months to be ready to open to the public.
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