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An Important Eleven-Piece Dining Suite from the Freeman A. Ford House
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About the item

Comprising a circular extending dining table, two armchairs and eight side chairs\nwith four extension leaves\nThe interior seat rails and corresponding seat frames consecutively numbered \nIn the summer of 1906, Freeman A. Ford, Vice President of the Pasadena Ice Company, approached the Greene brothers to design a house on a dramatic site overlooking the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena.  Located at 215 South Grand Avenue, the site was positioned directly south of Ford’s close family friends, Henry and Laurabelle Robinson, and north of his brother’s property.  After presenting Ford with two architectural plans, the first in September 1906 and the second in May 1907, construction on the single-level courtyard house began in July 1907 and was completed in March 1908.  The Greenes were involved in many other high-level commissions during this seminal phase of their career, including the Blacker outbuildings, construction of the Cole house, and the furnishings for the Robinson and Bolton houses.  The Ford commission was all-encompassing and showed the Greenes’ masterful integration of the architectural plan, exterior landscape and interior furnishings to create a totally unified design concept.  The house is widely recognized as one of the architects’ top masterworks.\n\nThe Ford dining suite is believed to have been designed in 1908, which is consistent with a design drawing for the Ford living room furniture dated February 25, 1908.  By 1906, the Greenes had joined forces on a permanent basis with the talented woodworkers Peter and John Hall to produce all of their interior furnishings.  The Ford dining suite exhibits the exquisite workmanship and elaborate joinery synonymous with the Greenes’ mature style and the Halls’ finest craftsmanship.  To truly appreciate the Ford suite, one must pay particular attention to its poetic details, such as the ebony splines that bisect the chair stiles and crest rails, the ebony-pegged finger joints connecting the table rails beneath the top, the seemingly random, yet intentional composition of the ebony pegs, and the subtle attenuation of the rounded square legs.  Specific motifs show the spectrum of design vocabularies from which the Greenes drew.  The abstract “cloud-lift” profiles incorporated in the table rails are derivative of Chinese furniture forms, while the strong graphic composition of the chair backs, similar in vein to the design of the Ford front door, is suggestive of anthropomorphic Native American motifs.\nThe Greenes customarily incorporated unique variations and motifs to distinguish particular rooms in their commissions, and the Ford dining room was no exception to this tendency.  The design of the dining suite displays many unique attributes that set it part from other rooms in the house and the architects’ greater repertoire.  The intricate inlaid design of creeping vines on the dining table was a departure from the Greenes’ inlay work of this period in terms of composition, variety of woods, and the three-dimensionality of the raised surfaces.  The Ford inlay is considerably more abstract than the Greenes’ more representational inlay of this period, exemplified by the Thorsen house furnishings.  Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the Ford suite is the unique treatment of the ebony pegs on the chair backs, where select pegs are pinched and set on alternate angles.  This treatment appears to be unique to the Ford commission.\n\nThe Ford dining suite is documented in several period photographs and design drawings that now reside in the collection of the Environmental Design Archives at University of California, Berkeley.  Photographs show the dining table in the Hall workshop prior to being delivered to the Ford house, as well as the table installed in the Ford dining room with the table tilted to show the impressive inlay on the top.  A graphite drawing shows the delicate design of the inlaid decoration.\nThis important offering presents a rare opportunity to acquire one of the last remaining intact dining suites from one of the Greenes’ top commissions.  The Blacker house dining suite is now divided between the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (sideboard), The Detroit Institute of Arts (dining table) and other museum and private collections (chairs); the Gamble suite remains in the permanent collection of the house; the Robinson and Thorsen suites now reside in the permanent collection of The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at the Huntington; and the Pratt and Cordelia Culbertson suites are privately owned.  The dining suite presently offered remained in the Ford house until 1967, and has descended in the Porter family to the present date.
US
NY, US
US

medium

Mahogany with ebony pegs; the dining table with ebony and various wood inlays probably consisting of ash, maple, walnut and rosewood the chairs retain the original under upholstery, including the original oak seat frames, seat springs, webbing, horsehair foundation, and muslin covers; the armchairs covered in second-generation silk upholstery; the side chairs covered in second-generation fabric upholstery 

creator

Green & Green

dimensions

Table closed: 30 x 65 7/8 x 65 7/8 in. (76.2 x 167.3 cm) table fully extended: 30 x 109 x 66 in. (76.2 x 276.9 x 167.6 cm) extension leaves: 66 x 10 3/4 in. (167.6 x 27.3 cm) each armchairs: 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm) high side chairs: 37 7/8 in. (96.2 cm) high

exhibition

The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art, The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, 1996

literature

For detailed discussions of the Freeman A. Ford commission see: Randell L. Makinson, Greene & Greene:  Architecture as a Fine Art, Salt Lake City, 1977, pp. 156-159 Randell L. Makinson, Greene & Greene:  Furniture and Related Designs, Salt Lake City, 1979, pp. 83-87 Randell L. Makinson, Greene & Greene:  The Passion and the Legacy, Salt Lake City, 1998, pp. 104-109 Edward R. Bosley, Greene & Greene, London, 2000, pp. 110-114

provenance

Mr. and Mrs. Freeman A. Ford, Pasadena, CA, ca. 1908 Howard and Pauline Hughes Porter, Pasadena, CA, ca. 1935 Thence by descent

signedDate

The interior seat rails and corresponding seat frames consecutively numbered

time_period

Ca. 1908

consignmentDesignation

Property from a California Collection


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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