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The Aesthetic Movement 

The Aesthetic Movement, as it would eventually be called, was a reaction against the values of modern industrialization which began in 1860s Britain. Early proponents included John Ruskin, William Morris, and Christopher Dresser, all three of them highly important cultural figures; its most eloquent public spokesman, however, was the Irish novelist and aesthete Oscar Wilde. The phrase “art for art’s sake” became its credo and battle cry; no longer would refinement of materials and sheer beauty be subordinated to, on the one hand, humdrum utility, and on the other, tasteless show. For their designs, practitioners drew on medieval and Renaissance motifs as well as the arts of Japan. The popularity of the Aesthetic Movement in the United States grew following the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, attracting the attention and interest of many of American’s wealthiest families. It flourished and reached its creative apogee during the 1870s and 1880s.

Today a resurgent interest in the Aesthetic Movement has caught on with artists, designers, and collectors as well as museums. Included in this sale are part of a bedroom set made by Herter Brothers presumably for the rail baron E.H. Harriman (father of Averell); a desk from this set is in the Los Angeles County Museum. Featured as well in the sale is a large and impressive mirror with corner marquetry masks, again by Herter Brothers; few such mirrors of this type are known (a similar one is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

Time & Location

Thursday, August 5 at 11am

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