Few designers can withstand comparison to Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, whose blend of sublime designs and superior craftmanship made theirs the preeminent California Arts and Crafts architectural firm of the early 20th century.
The brothers' ability to marry creative but sensitive designs with superior craftmanship made the demand for their work soar
so much so that more than a century later, four lots from their firm will grab a share of the spotlight when they are sold Sept. 30 in Heritage Auctions
' Design Auction. In 1911, Greene & Greene designed the Cordelia Culbertson House in Pasadena, California for three unmarried sisters: Cordelia, Kate and Margaret Culbertson, and subsequently conceived and sourced furnishings for the home.
Both the home and the furnishings included a measure of Asian influence, an unusual distinction for the Greenes' work.
"The Cordelia Culbertson House marked something of a departure from the norm for the firm, as it embraced a design approach embracing Asian influence with more slender, curved forms and delicate details rather than the angular, sturdy construction for which it had become known," Heritage Auctions Design Director Brent Lewis said. "The extraordinary lots Heritage Auctions are offering in this sale were designed by Charles (Greene), executed by the Pasadena workshop of John Hall and installed in the public rooms of the House. They remained after the house was sold in 1917 to Mrs. Dudley P. Allen, who acted as the home's steward until she died in 1944."
The homes and furniture designed by the Greenes, who were accomplished woodworkers before they studied architecture, often are complex and have long been exclusive at the time of its creation, it was affordable only for the wealthy. Similarly, only the best woodworkers could manufacture furniture to the Greenes' specifications. The Greenes were renowned for their meticulous attention to detail, a stark contrast from repetitive reproduction favored by some designers.
The lots from the Cordelia Culbertson House in this auction include:
A Group of Six Chairs for the Drawing Room of the Cordelia Culbertson House, Pasadena, California, circa 1913, executed by the Peter Hall Workshop (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
A Pair of Armchairs for the Cordelia Culbertson House, Pasadena, California, circa 1910, executed by the Peter Hall Workshop (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
A Lady's Sofa for the Cordelia Culbertson House, Pasadena, California, circa 1913, executed by the Peter Hall Workshop (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
A Gentleman's Sofa for the Cordelia Culbertson House, Pasadena, California, circa 1913, executed by the Peter Hall Workshop (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
The elegant sofas and chairs in this auction are in mahogany, with slightly curved backs, scrolled arms, and tapered legs with inlaid stylized floral motifs. They were reupholstered by the consignor, who purchased them at auction in 1980.