Originally published in 1883 to 1884, Artistic Houses comprised more than 200 photographs of the interiors of the homes of the well-to-do, with commentary on the woodwork, wall coverings, color schemes, and other aspects of interior décor. Today, historians consider Artistic Houses the best source of information and illustrations for private houses in major Eastern cities in the early 1880s. Although its authorship is not certain, the text is generally attributed to noted author and art critic George William Sheldon.
This volume retains all of the photographs from the original two-volume work; the text, however, has been replaced with a version specially written for this edition. In addition to an introductory essay on the period's social and esthetic trends, extensive captions for each plate include most of the valuable information from Sheldon's descriptions plus biographical comments on the homeowners and their families, comments on paintings and sculptures, present condition of the houses, and locations.
Over 200 photographs of 97 grand buildings include rare photographs of the New York homes of Hamilton Fish and Ulysses S. Grant; multiple views of the Henry Villard house, now part of the Helmsley Palace Hotel in Manhattan; rooms from William H. Vanderbilt's Fifth Avenue residence; interiors from J. Pierpont Morgan's Madison Avenue home; the Marshall Field house in Chicago, and many others. Here are richly paneled rooms that rivaled the baronial halls of European castles, miniature art galleries, magnificent tapestries, plush draperies, and brilliant chandeliers. With its thorough scholarship and wealth of detail, this impressive survey offers not only inside views of the homes of the rich and powerful families during the Gilded Age but also fascinating insights into the social history and architectural development of the United States.