Book Review: Winterthur Portfolio 10

by John Werry on January 19, 2010

Phoenix Furniture Co. e1263917219795 Book Review: Winterthur Portfolio 10

Published in 1975 by the University Press of Virginia for The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, this book holds some valuable reference material for Victorian furniture fans. I personally purchased it for the multitude of Phoenix Furniture Co. photos such as the one above that provide a reference for the furniture that they made in the late 1870s.

The photos are part of a broader article on the furniture of Grand Rapids at the time of the Centennial by Kenneth Ames. Berkey and Gay, Nelson, Matter and Co., and Phoenix are all prominently featured with excellent catalog images.

“The Influence of Charles Locke Eastlake on the American Furniture Manufacture, 1870-90″ by Mary Jean Smith Madigan is another noteworthy article as are “Design Sources for Nineteenth-Century Window Hangings” by Samuel J. Dornsife (30 pages with exceptional images) and “Associated Artists and the American Renaissance in the Decorative Arts” by Wilson H. Faude.

Although no longer published, used copies can be found via Amazon.  You may try here or here for a copy if this interests you.

Speaking of the Centennial, you may be interested to see some photos that I recently took of the only major building that has survived from the Centennial Exhibition, Memorial Hall in Philadelphia.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

lin January 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

It is a little bit strange to see Winterthur published the book since the museum collect furniture up to 1840. A lot of Victorian furniture, even some of the best, would not make it.

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John Werry January 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm

The aims of this publication are separate from the collecting habits of the museum itself. They have research and academic programs which are broader than what you might expect based on what they own. Here is what the editor’s state on the “ISBN page” as their objective for the publication:
“the objective of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in publishing Winterthur Portfolio is to make available to the serious student an authoritative reference for the investigation and documentation of early American culture. The publication presents articles about many aspects of American life. Included are studies that extend current information about objects used in America in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries; or about the makers, the manufacture, the distribution, the use, and the settings of such objects. Scholarly articles contributing to the knowledge of America’s social, cultural, political, military, and religious heritage, as well as those offering new approaches or interpretations concerning research and conservation of art objects, are welcome.”

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John Werry January 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention: note the figural arms a la “Jelliff” on this Phoenix piece.

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Kirk Johnson January 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

The texture of the fabric is interesting. Is it satin?

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Mike G September 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I love this site. It brought me to yet another book I have never seen. Mouth watering.

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