Lockwood de Forest
(1850 - 1932)
Wood, upholstery, metal
41 7/8 in. x 27 in. x 27 1/2 in. (106.36 cm x 68.58 cm x 69.85 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
North and Central America, United States
Furnishings and Furniture; Furniture
American design; Indian manufacture
Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) was an American-born artist who is most well-known for his landscape painting and interior design, as well as for his partnership with Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Associated Artists in New York. As a young man he travelled frequently with his family, touring Europe, North Africa, and parts of the Middle East before the age of 25, but his greatest interest was in the decorative arts of Eastern India. De Forest spent many years in Ahmedabad overseeing a workshop where craftsmen produced carved furniture, tracery panels, jewelry, and textiles for export to New York City.
This armchair was designed as a set with another armchair (Deanery.355), a sofa (Deanery.354), and several side chairs (Deanery.357, Deanery.358, Deanery.359) specifically for M. Carey Thomas’s large sitting room, the Dorothy Vernon Room. Designed by de Forest during the Deanery expansion of 1908-1909, the room was modeled after one in Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, England, which Thomas had visited numerous times while she was a student, traveling in Europe. De Forest designed the room as a mixture of English and East Indian design, although Japanese teakwood tables and Tiffany lamps were used in the room as well. After the Deanery was razed in 1968, a new Dorothy Vernon Room was installed in Haffner Hall, about a quarter size of the original room, where many of the ceiling stencils, furniture, and other furnishings were re-located.
The suite of furniture to which the sofa belongs is crafted of a dark brown wood, possibly walnut or teak. The pieces are stenciled with black paint in typical de Forest designs and embellished with panels of perforated copper. The patterns for the stenciling and copper panels are of traditional East Indian design, while the style of the sofa and chairs themselves is reminiscent of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English furniture – an appropriate combination for the mixed aesthetic of the Dorothy Vernon Room.
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