The above Aesthetic Movement secretary made by Herter Brothers is in the process of being acquired by the Newark Museum. That news is fresh off the presses as the decision was just sealed yesterday after a formal presentation to the museum’s board. Senior Curator Ulysses Dietz explained to me that it has displaced a Leon Marcotte cabinet that the museum has owned since the 1930s which will be back on display in the near future in another wing.
Herter Brothers not only constructed cabinets, such as this secretary, but also excelled in carpets, draperies, wall and ceiling decorations and other forms of interior furnishings. Their exquisite style is still imitated by modern manufacturers around the world today, and can be found in a number of diverse locations, from manor houses in New York to birmingham hotels in the UK. Still, nothing quite compares to seeing a genuine Herter Brothers piece. The secretary is currently in the American Art wing as part of the “Picturing America” exhibition.
The Hopkins secretary has a storied past. It was originally part of Mark Hopkins’ Nob Hill residence which was constructed between 1875 and1880. The home was architected by Wright and Sanders with interiors designed by Herter Brothers. Unfortunately, Mark died in 1878 while the home was still under construction and never saw it’s completion. His wife continued on with the completion of the home and later married Edward F. Searles, Herter Brothers’s West Coast representative.
You might remember a similar cabinet that I wrote about this past September that was also at the Bonhams sale but did not sell. This cabinet was featured in the Warner Brothers move, My Fair Lady in 1964.
This cabinet headed to Newark was acquired by Margot Johnson for $91,500 at the Bonhams sale in January 2009 and has been conserved since.
However …. developing news. I’m hearing today that there is some possibility that this secretary and other pieces for Mark Hopkins’ home were actually made by Pottier & Stymus as a subcontractor to Herter Brothers. I’ll pass on any further information that I receive or those in the know can pass it on via comments below.
I hope to make a stop by the Newark Museum in the near future and see it in person as I have yet to visit and have always had it on the list. This secretary has tipped the scales to make the drive.