George Herzog

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Diningroom of the Albert H. Disston house, Philadelphia, PA (1881-82). Source: HABS.

George Herzog (October 19, 1851, Munich, Germany – September 16, 1920, New York City) was an American interior designer and decorative painter, best known for his work on Philadelphia Masonic Temple.

Career[edit]

The son of the German painter Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1832-1932), he trained under Joseph Schwarzmann, and at Munich's Royal Academy of Arts. His family immigrated to the United States in the early 1870s, and he joined the Philadelphia firm of decorators Konstantine & Otto Kaiser. His work received prizes at the 1876 Centennial Exposition for upholstery design and fresco painting, and in 1879 he assumed management of the firm.[1]

It specialized in ceiling and wall decoration, and sometimes oil portraiture. At the Albert H. Disston house, the goddesses playing musical instruments on the music room ceiling may be portraits of the client's relatives. The diningroom of industrialist Peter A. B. Widener's house included wall murals of his children dressed in Renaissance garb.[2] The firm's ornate interiors often combined stencilled geometric patterns with painted floral and classical-inspired scenes:

Herzog's interiors–commonly consisting of wall as well as ceiling treatments–mixed meticulous German training with late-Victorian American tastes. Their closest analog is the oeurvre of the Herter Brothers, European-trained partners who designed interiors for New York's elite. Like the Herter Brothers, Herzog frequently exercised control over the entire interior design process, including walls, ceilings, furniture, draperies and glass.[3]

He decorated major rooms at Philadelphia City Hall, including the Mayor's Reception Room, the Supreme Court Room, the Judges' Consultation Room and the Law Library. He was a member of the Philadelphia Masonic Temple and the Union League of Philadelphia, and completed multiple commissions for each. He decorated the city and country houses of industrialists, churches, and Keneseth Israel, the largest synagogue in Philadelphia. He did work at Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee. He opened an office in New York City, and decorated interiors there and on Long Island, including the Harmonie Club with McKim, Mead & White.

Louis Comfort Tiffany had formed Associated Artists in 1879, joining together various artisans to create a comprehensive (if short-lived) design company. Perhaps in imitation, Herzog (decorative painting and textiles), Charles F. Vollmer (furniture and cabinetry), Alfred Godwin (stained glass), J. E. McClees (art and imported goods), and Sharpless & Watt (decorative tiles and metalwork) joined in 1893, to form Associated Art Workers. They opened a showcase house at 1518 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, but the company appears to have disbanded by 1895.[4]

Most of Herzog's work does not survive, it was demolished, destroyed or painted over. His most-intact interiors are at the Philadelphia Masonic Temple, where he designed roughly 80% of the decorative painting.[5] Collections of his watercolor renderings are at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Masonic Temple, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Selected projects[edit]

Philadelphia[edit]

Elsewhere[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Luellen, p. 22.
  2. ^ Michael J. Lewis, " 'He was not a Connoisseur': Peter Widener and his House," Nineteenth Century, vol. 12, no. 3/4 (1993).
  3. ^ Donna J. Rilling, Disston House, Summer 2000, p. 12.HABS No. PA-6669
  4. ^ Luellen, p. 51.
  5. ^ Laura L. Libert.
  6. ^ St. Agatha-St. James photos
  7. ^ "The handsome home of Reuben Osborn Moon, one of the city's prominent lawyers, is especially attractive with its Herzog decorations, its mosiac work, hand-carved oak stairway, its grand library, magnificent dining-room, its palm conservatory, its spacious grounds, etc." Moses King, Philadelphia and Notable Philadelphians, New York: Blanchard Press, 1901, p. 89.
  8. ^ Widener Mansion from Philadelphia History.
  9. ^ Mayor's Reception Room ceiling from Flickr.
  10. ^ Kemble-Bergdoll Mansion, for sale, May 2011
  11. ^ Kemble-Bergdoll ballroom
  12. ^ Kenneseth Israel interior (1905)
  13. ^ Liederkranz Society history
  14. ^ Beaumont sketches from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings.