Thursday, January 22, 2009

Anna Katharine Green

While I'm on the subject of furniture designers, I thought I'd share some ideas drawn from the work of Charles Rohlfs and his wife Anna Katharine Green. Green is well known for her literary skills as a Victorian mystery novelist while Rohlfs is ranked among the most innovative furniture makers of the early twentieth century. Green also pursued watercolor painting and the illumination of poetry. Joseph Cunningham in his article Anna Katharine Green and Charles Rohlfs: Artistic Collaborators, (The Magazine Antiques, December 2008) brings to light new scholarship linking this other side of Green to carved designs on early furniture by Rohlfs.

There's definitely a link between design motifs used on furniture and on quilts in the 18th & 19th centuries. Shells, fans, scrolls, compasses and many other motifs show up in near identical form on these items and at times you have to wonder who was influencing whom. So I am always on the lookout for design elements in furniture that I could incorporate into my quilting. In these examples, Green is credited with adding her flourishes to the Arts & Crafts sensibilities of Rohlfs' sturdy furniture. The one on the left resembles a plume and is similar to the ever popular "feathers" quilting design. This variation reminds me more of a swan.

It's exciting to look at Green's illuminations and see the direct similarity to a carved element on a bench or desk.


Click on this photo of a desk and explore the rich details, any of which could be adapted to quilting. Note the similarity of the serpentine lines to the ones in Green's illustration below.



5 comments:

Nora said...

Lovely work.
It reminds me of my collection of post cards that my grandparents exchanged in the early 1900's in the 8 years they wrote, before marrying: my granddad, who had pre-empted (similar to homesteading) land in the Creston Valley, and my grandmother, who was still in Ontario.
Nora

Exuberant Color said...

I had never heard of Anna Katharine Green. Thanks for a little look into her life in art.

RHONDA said...

Love those swirly lines! It's what my pencil wants to do whenever I pick one up, even though I can't really draw. Hmmm... maybe that's what attracted me to quilting in the first place...

Chris Mundy said...

Nice blog entry. I love learning new things, expecially about art.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Chris. Stay tuned - I periodically highlight other artists and how their work ties into my medium of quilting.