Stanford White: Decorator in Opulence and Dealer in Antiquities

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Overview

The designer of such landmarks as the Washington Square Arch, the New York Herald and Tiffany Buildings, and the homes of captains of American industry, Stanford White is a legendary figure in the history of American architecture. Yet while the exteriors and floor plans of his designs have been extensively studied and written about, no book has fully examined the other aspect of his career, which claimed at least half of his time and creativity. Wayne Craven's work offers the first study of Stanford White as an interior decorator and a dealer in antiques and the fine arts.

Craven also offers a vivid portrait of the sweeping social and cultural changes taking place in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He places White's work as an interior decorator within the context of the lives and society of the nouveaux riches who built unprecedented fortunes during the Industrial Revolution. Rejecting the dominant middle-class tastes and values of the United States, the Whitneys, Vanderbilts, Astors, Paynes, Mackays, and other wealthy New York families saw themselves as the new aristocracy and desired the prestige and trappings accorded to Old World nobility. Stanford White fulfilled their hunger for aristocratic recognition by adorning their glamorous Fifth Avenue mansions and Long Island estates with the sculptures, stained-glass windows, coats of arms, and carved fireplaces of the European past. Interior decorators such as White did more than just buy single pieces for these families. They purchased entire rooms from palazzos, chateaux, villas, nunneries, and country houses; had them dismantled; and shipped -- both furnishings and architectural elements -- to their American clients. Through Stanford White's activities, Craven uncovers the mostly, but not always, legal business of dealing in antiquities, as American money entered and changed the European art market.

Based on the archives of the Avery Architectural Library of Columbia University and the New-York Historical Society, this book recovers a neglected yet significant part of White's career, which lasted from the 1870s to his murder in 1906. White not only set the bar for twentieth-century architecture but also defined the newly emerging profession of interior design.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Barbara Jacobs

The author does an admirable job in showcasing not only the talents of White but also the rise of interior design as a profession.

Period Homes - Eve M. Kahn

White's interior's, even as ghosts known only from grainy vintage photos, still have much to teach, especially about the art of loosening up while going over the top.

Winterthur Portfolio - Thomas Denenberg

A key text for understanding the great houses of the Gilded Age.

Booklist
The author does an admirable job in showcasing not only the talents of White but also the rise of interior design as a profession.

— Barbara Jacobs

Antiques and The Arts Weekly

The book is a breakthrough account of White the dealer and director... The book is a major contribution to decretive arts literature.

Period Homes
White's interior's, even as ghosts known only from grainy vintage photos, still have much to teach, especially about the art of loosening up while going over the top.

— Eve M. Kahn

Winterthur Portfolio
A key text for understanding the great houses of the Gilded Age.

— Thomas Denenberg

Antiques & The Arts Weekly
The book is a breakthrough account of White the dealer and director... The book is a major contribution to decretive arts literature.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231133449
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,209,118
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Wayne Craven is the H. F. du Pont Winterthur Professor of Art History, Emeritus, at the University of Delaware. He is the author of several books, including American Art: History and Culture, Colonial American Portraiture, and Sculpture in America.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Stanford White as Dealer in Antiquities2. Dealers, Agents, Forgers, Export Laws, and Stanford White3. The William C. Whitney and Oliver Hazard Payne Houses4. The Payne Whitney House5. The Mackays and Harbor Hill6. From the Poor House to the White HouseEpilogueNotesGlossary

Columbia University Press

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