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Side Chair

Designer: Zulma Steele (American, 1881 - 1979)

Date: 1904
Medium: Wood, leather, brass
Overall: 37 3/8 x 18 x 16 1/2in. (94.9 x 45.7 x 41.9cm)
Inscribed: Inside top of left rear leg impressed octagonal mark "Byrdcliffe/1904" with lily in center
Credit Line: Museum Purchase and Partial Gift of Mark Willcox, Jr.
Object number: 2001.39.1
Label Text
Launched by British reformers such as John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-96), the arts and crafts movement was a reform initiative that encompassed an entire philosophy of interior design. Proponents of the movement advocated handcraftsmanship, the use of natural materials, and construction in which joints plainly showed. The movement sought to redress the effects of industrialization including poor quality mass-produced goods and superfluous ornamentation in homes. The arts and crafts movement influenced American design from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the 1920s. Members of the utopian Byrdcliffe Colony in Woodstock, New York, created this chair. The completely equipped artists' community made furniture, ceramics, and photographs.

The arts and crafts aesthetic favored plain surfaces and upholstery treatments such as leather, rush, and uncomplicated fabrics. The simple aesthetic harkened back to preindustrial society and emancipated the homeowner from housework.