This Saturday the Dallas Museum of Art offered a lecture on dining rooms. When I mentioned this to a friend the response was “could you tell us what is wrong with ours.” Well, I don’t know if I could have taken away just that, but it was informative none-the less.
The title of the lecture by Dr, Beverly K. Brandt, professor of The Design School at Arizona State University, was The Craftsman Dining Room in Contecxt: From Whistler’s Peacock Room to Hoffmann’s Palais Stoclet. The Peacock Room is currently installed in the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC. [A side note here, an exhibit titled The Peacock Room Comes to America opens at the Freer Gallery April 9, 2011]. We bagan however with room in Newport homes which were designed to live up to those of wealthy Europeans and ended with a dining room on display designed by Gustauv Stickley.
It was fun to hear the word “naturalism” tied to the likes of John Henry Belter and then to the arts-and-crafts movement. The room shown featuring Belter furniture, the Rococo Revival Period Room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the only rooms that could compare at all in terms of cost and grandeur with the Stickley room. That said the lecture at the end did return to Shaker designs. I asked if there were middle-class examples of historicism. The answer was yes, but the photos are harder to come by. Fair enough.
With an overview, we can see that the Shaker “dining room” (I put it in quotes because most rooms had multiple purposes then) begins as informal and then goes unbearably formal and then to the less formal dining room by Stickley. This begs the question of where we have gone since then. I’d venture that soon after that dining rooms became open, then evolved into a living and dining area, until today when its not unheard of to have a home built without a formal dining or living room for that matter. That’s one of the reasons furniture like this can be a hard sell.
I would have loved to have heard some thoughts on whether that was a natural progression from the less formal dining rooms, but we had run out of time by the time I thought of the question.
I have included a photo of a turn of the 20th Century dining room by photographer Frank Fuermann, which we have available for purchase in our store.