‘MY EAR-TRUMPET HAS BEEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING , ‘ BY ELOSIE MOOREHEAD about the Herter Brothers, Gustave & Christian.

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2010 at 21:32

My Ear-Trumpet Has Been Struck By Lightning

17thday ofFebruaryin the year2010



Slideshow of 19th century revival style beds by the Herter Brothers (10 images total)

The Herter Brothers were Gustave & Christian, sons of a cabinetmaker, who came to New York via Germany (in 1848 and 1859 respectively), and set up shop as furniture makers shortly after. From there on, the brothers became known as the premier firm of furniture makers and society interior decorators in the United States during the second half of the 19th century.

Little bits about the Herter Bros mad style:

Pictorial History of Herter Brothers furniture

from The Winterthur Library:

Their client list included such names as Armour, Guggenheim, McCormack, Vanderbilt, the St. Regis Hotel, the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, Delmonico’s, the Minnesota State Capitol, and the White House. (Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera)

from 1995 NY Times review of the last exhibition on their work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Historians cite the imperial swank of William H. Vanderbilt’s mansion at 640 Fifth Avenue, between 51st and 52d Streets, as the high-water mark of the brothers and, indeed, by any standard of measurement those interiors were extraordinary. Particularly the library, where pride of place was given to a giant table inlaid with a scattering of mother-of-pearl stars showing the position of constellations on the day of Vanderbilt’s birth. As an ingenious bit of flattery, it worked: The client was so pleased with it all that he allowed the publication of an illustrated book about it in 1883-84. — The Boy Wonders Of Victoriana, by Mitchell Owens

from Wikipedia:

The firm was at the forefront of the panoply of furnishing styles that preceded the Mission style: Renaissance Revival, Neo-Grec, Eastlake, the Aesthetic Movement, ebonized “Anglo-Japanese style” furnishings of the 1870s – 1880s, and the wide range of furnishings in revival styles required for Gilded Age houses.

Albert Herter in Viking costume

Probably most exciting to me, I just learned that Christian was the father of Albert Herter, an eccentric artist, who lived with his wife Adele in an absolutely ridonkulous 60-acre mansion in East Hampton called The Creeks, a place I have been fascinated with since first reading about it in Philistines at the Hedgerow, by Steven Gaines. The Creeks was designed by Grosvenor Atterbury in 1899 and set on Georgica Pond, where Adele was fond of taking afternoon trips on, in Robert Browning’s Venetian gondola, unraveling a very long and very expensive scarf in the water, which would trail behind the vessel as she floated along. Most fabulously, she was also known for having the servants uproot the gardens every night so that her guests would wake up to new flower displays every morning. The Herters were on the forefront of the artists colonies which would eventually flourish there, and the stories of social and cultural happenings at the Creeks during the decades of the Herters ownership are legendary.

At the Creeks, circa 1954. Top row: Ted Dragon, Polish poet Kasmir Wierzynski, Josephine Little with infant Abigail, Joseph Glasco. Bottom row: Horla the poodle, Alfonso Ossorio, Halina Wierzynski, Jackson Pollock

After the Herter family, in the early 1950s the house was bought by artist, curator and art dealer Alfonso A. Ossorio, who lived there with his partner, dancer Ted Dragon. Ossorio & Dragon continued in the tradition of fostering the arts, and encouraged friends Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner to move out to East Hampton. “Under Ossorio’s control, “The Creeks became a Bloomsbury on the Pond…a Disneyland for esthetes,” drawing the second wave of artists to the Hamptons. (The first artist infestation occurred in the 1930s and included the likes of Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and one of Picasso’s lovers.)”


. I wished there were scenes set on location there in the Pollack film. Unfortunately, when the house was sold by Dragon a few years after Ossorio death in 1990, the entire property was torn down and turned into this bullshit. This is why I am interested in historic preservation.

“The worst aspect is that The Creeks was so rich in culture and history that even the richest man in New York State has managed to cheapen it. To buy a house is one thing, to inhabit it is another.” — Steven Gaines

The Creeks, Entrance Facade with “The Garden of the Sun” ca. 1900

Room with fireplace and oriental furnishings at The Creeks

Dining Room, The Creeks ca. 1900

Costume Soiree at The Creeks, 1909

East Hampton Showplace On The Block, 1991 NY Times article on The Creeks, published before it was sold to Ron Perelman by Allan M. Schneider (a must read)

The Creeks – info about the land and extravagant Victorian gardens

Herter Family Estate site

  1. Hi AL, Don’t know if it’s my browser, or what, but the pictures didn’t show up. I’d love to see them. Could you send me the link to the original article? I’m sure this is art nouveau — it’s the right time. I didn’t know that you were from a line of ébénistes and artists.

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