George Herzog

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George Herzog, c. 1891


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]

Diningroom of the Peter A. B. Widener house, Philadelphia (1887).

The son of the German landscape painter Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1832–1932), he trained under the ornamental painter Joseph Schwarzmann, and at Munich's Royal Academy of Arts. His family immigrated to the United States in 1871. He became a partner in the Philadelphia decorating firm of Otto & Konstantine Kaiser in 1873, and assumed management of the firm in 1874, following the Kaisers' deaths. His work received prizes at the 1876 Centennial Exposition for upholstery design and fresco painting.[1]

He specialized in ceiling and wall decoration, and sometimes oil portraiture. The goddesses playing musical instruments in the music room ceiling mural of Albert H. Disston's house may be portraits of the client's relatives. The wall murals in the diningroom of industrialist Peter A. B. Widener's house featured portraits of the client's children in Renaissance garb looking down from a balcony.[2] Herzog'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 formed Associated American Artists in 1879, assembling a team of artisans to create a comprehensive (if short-lived) design company. Perhaps in imitation, a team of Philadelphia artisans – Herzog (decorative painting and textiles), Charles F. Vollmer (furniture and cabinetry), Alfred Godwin (stained glass), J. E. McClees (art and imported goods), Sharpless & Watt (decorative tiles and metalwork) – joined in 1893 to form Associated Art Workers. They opened a designer showcase house at 1518 Chestnut Street, 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]

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

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.