Modern Gothic style

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"Interior View of Dining-Room" (1876), illustration by Bruce James Talbert.

Modern Gothic, also known as Reformed Gothic, was an Aesthetic Movement furniture and decorative-arts style of the 1860s and 1870s, that was popular in Great Britain and the United States. A rebellion against the excessive ornament of Second Empire and Rococo Revival furniture, it advocated simplicity and honesty of construction, and ornament derived from nature. Unlike the Gothic Revival, it sought not to copy Gothic designs, but to adapt them, abstract them, and apply them to new forms.[1]

The style's leading advocates were English designers Christopher Dresser and Charles Eastlake. Eastlake's Hints on Household Taste, Upholstery, and Other Details, published in England in 1868 and in the United States in 1872, was one of the most influential decorating manuals of the Victorian Era. The Eastlake Movement argued that furniture and decor in people's homes should be made by hand or by machine-workers who took personal pride in their work. Eastlake lectured in the United States in 1876.

French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc advocated similar principles in Entretiens sur l'architecture (in 2 volumes, 1863–72), which was translated and published in the United States as Discourses on Architecture (1875). He incorporated modern materials, such as cast iron, into his historicist designs and building restorations. He also designed furniture.

Other designers who worked in the Modern Gothic style include Bruce James Talbert, Edward William Godwin, and Thomas Jeckyll in England; and Kimbel and Cabus, Frank Furness, and Daniel Pabst in the United States.

By 1878, the American critic Clarence Cook was already pronouncing the style passé:

"There was a little while ago quite a rage for a certain style of furniture that made a great display of seeming steel hinges, key-plates, and handles, with inlaid tiles, carving of an ultra-Gothic type, and an appearance of the ingenuous truth-telling in the construction. The chairs, tables and bedsteads looked as if they had been on the dissecting-table and flayed alive,—their joints and tendons displayed to an archaeologic and unfeeling world. One particular firm [Kimbel and Cabus] introduced this style of furniture, and, for a time, had almost the monopoly of it. It had a great run."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sarah E. Kelly, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, vol. 32, no. 1 (2006), p. 18.
  2. ^ Clarence Cook, The House Beautiful: Essays on Beds and Tables, Stools and Candlesticks, (New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company, 1878), p. 325.
  • Doreen Bolger Burke, et al., In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), pp. 146-47, 429-31.
  • David Hanks, "Reform in Philadelphia: Frank Furness, Daniel Pabst, and 'Modern Gothic' Furniture," Art News, vol. 74, no. 8 (October 1975).
  • David A. Hanks and Page Talbott, "Daniel Pabst—Philadelphia Cabinetmaker," Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 73, no. 316 (April, 1977), pp. 4-24.
  • Kristin Herron, "The Modern Gothic Furniture of Pottier and Stymus," The Magazine Antiques, vol. 155, no. 5 (May 1999).
  • Wendy Kaplan, "The Furniture of Frank Furness," The Magazine Antiques, vol. 131, no. 5 (May 1987), pp. 1088-95.
  • Mary Jean Madigan, Eastlake-influenced American Furniture, 1870-1890 (Hudson River Museum, 1973).
  • Mary Jean Madigan, et al., Nineteenth Century Furniture: Innovation, Revival and Reform (Arts & Antiques, 1982).
  • Mark Orlowski, "The Furniture of Frank Furness," Journal of Interior Design, vol. 13, no. 2 (September 1987).