Harvey Ellis, ‘An Important and Rare Settee’, circa 1903, Sotheby's
Harvey Ellis, ‘An Important and Rare Settee’, circa 1903, Sotheby's

executed by the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley, Eastwood, New York

inlays executed by the workshop of George Henry Jones, New York

From the Catalogue
When Harvey Ellis met Gustav Stickley in 1903, he was already an accomplished architect with decades of experience, but the work for which he would eventually become most recognized—his design work for the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley—was soon to come. He was eccentric, poetic, and regarded by his peers as a genius. He brought to Stickley’s workshop a new perspective on the Arts & Crafts style, designing furniture pieces that struck a unique balance between delicacy and boldness, intricacy and simplicity.

The influence of the European Arts & Crafts masters is apparent in Ellis’ work, such as the present settee. Like many of his other works, the settee possesses a Josef Hoffmann-sensibility, a designer whose work was an important source of inspiration for Ellis. The form itself is indebted to a similar model designed by British architect and artist Baillie Scott, and the stylized inlay motif makes reference to the pioneering decorative designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Until Ellis joined Stickley’s workshop, marquetry decorations did not figure prominently into the firm’s body of work. Ellis, however, called upon Japonesque aesthetics to render charming asymmetric landscapes with inlaid wood, surrounded by biomorphic metal inlays. The confluence of these diverse inspirations interpreted through Ellis’ unique Arts & Crafts vision made his work immediately distinctive.

The present settee descended in the family of the original owner from the period. Its elegant proportions and exquisite inlaid decorations make this work a superb example of Harvey Ellis’ quintessential style.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Signature: with firm's decal

Leslie Green Bowman, American Arts & Crafts; Virtue in Design, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990, p. 81
A. Patricia Bartinique, Gustav Stickley: His Craft, Parsippany, NJ, 1992, p. 43
Peter Barnet and Mary Ann Wilkinson, Decorative Arts 1900: Highlights from Private Collections in Detroit, 1993, p. 46
David Cathers, Gustav Stickley, New York, 2003, p. 95 (for a related settee)
Judith A. Barter, Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago, Chicago, 2009, p. 103 (for a related cube chair in the collection of Crab Tree Farm, Lake Bluff, Illinois)

Private Family, Colusa, California, circa 1903
Thence by descent
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About Harvey Ellis