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Hollyhock end tables

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:55 pm
by JChoate ... ociety_185

Unless I missed it, I don't seen an explanation of the whereabouts and reason for the price tag for the fundraiser. Who owns them now and is looking to sell them?

Roderick, are these pieces you used in your work recreating drawings for missing pieces?

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:48 pm
by outside in
this is insane - $50k for two tiny tables? Make replicas, spend the money on something worthwhile. Collectors should have the opportunity to donate the tables to the organization, but they should not be rewarded for gouging a NFP. By buying the tables back, they are only increasing the value of other FLW furniture, thereby increasing the chance of some other owner selling them off.

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:09 pm
by SDR
Someone---Roderick or Stan, perhaps, or both gentlemen---will have to clear up for us, once and for all, what's going on with these tables. I haven't
managed to absorb what I've read or been told; something about a pair of replicas made (when---how long ago ?) that were in place until the originals
surfaced and were bought (by whom ?) with the intent of returning them to the house. Do I have any of that right ?

If so, what is being sold now ? Is money being raised to acquire them from the recent donor ? Are the replicas being sold ?

Sorry . . . but, help !


Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 10:16 am
by DRN
During my visit to the house in October 2019, there were two small tables with unequal length feet set at a floor level change in a second floor bedroom. When I asked about them, it was noted they were replicas of living room pieces that had been removed from the living room due to acquisition of the originals. It wasn't clear from the comment if the originals had been acquired as yet, and I don't recall if corresponding tables were in the living room that day.

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:56 am
by SDR
That is most interesting, Dan. Would these tables have suited, as they have no "rear" legs ?


I had forgotten that Bill Schwarz gave me five photos he took last year in Los Angeles:






The crisp detail of that last molding is nearly unbelievable in its precision---especially remarkable in a coarse-textured wood like oak. Looking now more
closely, I see that the molding is an assembly of separate components, which would explain some of the more noteworthy intersections. (Does the older
molding also include some overlaid pieces ?)

So, with a total of four single tables, each with its own chair, one wonders what the designer and/or the client intended for this space. Was it arranged as
a secretarial pool ? Did Miss Barnsdall have a lot of correspondence---enough that multiple assistants would be necessary to handle it ?

Or had she come up with a novel sort of card game, where each player got her own table, and a runner was employed to pass cards. Mahjong, anyone ?


Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:41 pm
by Roderick Grant
The reproductions of original pieces include 2 couches set at 45 degrees to the grid, 2 large tables affixed at the east and west ends of the couches supported by 7' tall torchiers, and the two 30" square tables (with attendant chairs, which had remained in the house) which are the subject here, were built by master craftsman James Ipekjian in the early 90s, based on drawings I made of the set from historic photographs. The total cost was in the neighborhood of 20 grand, + $200 apiece for 6 large pillows. (See "Hollyhock House Interior Images.")

In 1927, the City of Los Angeles acquired the house, and shortly thereafter the assemblage was removed from the house and vanished, with the exception of the 2 small tables, which were attached to form a 30"x60" table. That table ended up in Aline's room upstairs, but was later lost to theft. In 2004, Bonhams Auction sold them to someone unknown. They had been bought at a yard sale many years earlier. Ginny Kazor and I examined the tables to confirm how accurate the repro was. Once the measurements of the tables were confirmed, the scale of entire set could be determined.

The two tables that have turned up were, according to the owner, purchased at a Bonham auction in 1995, which conflicts with the 2004 date. The price paid was supposedly $60K. They were offered to Hollyhock House for that amount, just so the buyer could recoup his investment without loss. As I recall the original tables, they were not very well made; Jim's versions were superior. I am not convinced that the current set are legit. Nevertheless, I would say that spending $50K on them (I wonder what happened to that other $10K?) is excessive. Who is providing the matching funds? The reproduction of the entire set is so close to the original (with a slight difference in the decorative molding due to inadequate photographic evidence) that the money the house needs for other restoration projects should take priority. Why Jeff has seen fit to put the 'originals' in the living room and the reproes upstairs, I do not know.

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:26 pm
by SDR
Thank you Roderick; that should clear up unanswered questions---my own, at any rate !

So, it is James Ipekjian we must thank for the ingenious and remarkable solution to a challenging carving assignment---among many other accomplishments.

Knowing now the complete history, I would certainly vote to see the reproduction tables back in the living room. The carpet dents certainly reveal something---
perhaps that material has been removed from the back end of the original tables, possibly when they were united---or maybe the whole set has moved closer
to the fireplace at some point ?


Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:44 pm
by SDR
. . .Probably not that, as there are no revealed carpet marks under the adjacent furniture base. Indeed, the major furnitectural object
could not be moved except in pieces; it would have to be at least partially disassembled before it could be moved even an inch . . .


Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:42 pm
by Roderick Grant
The whole assembly is in 8 distinct parts: couches, small tables, torchiers from table top up, large tables (which require attachment at back of couches to stand). It takes a fork lift (hand operated) to move the couches.

The ensemble was a way that FLW reoriented the approach. There are 3 entrances, by the music room, the loggia and the alcove next to the chimney. To make the monumental fireplace and chimney the focal point of the room, the couches function as room dividers in such a way that the plan's east/west axis becomes subordinated to the north/south axis by forcing the entrants to the north end of the room facing the south.

The plan of the room is an abstraction of the triune room of Hickox et alia, with the triangular space in front of the fireplace on the south equivalent to the living room, and the two smaller triangular spaces in the northeast and northwest corners the dining room and library/music room of that old scheme. Even though this arrangement reduces the utility of the 46'x24' room dramatically, since Aline preferred to entertain small groups of no more than 6 or 8, it doesn't matter. Notice that the dining set seats only 6.

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:08 pm
by SDR
Thank you for that. In addition to that helpful analysis, we have Donald Hoffmann on the living-room design:

"A study for the furniture layout shows the living room to be a double square. The fireplace plan, which echoes in miniature the proposed theater, is an
octagon: a square with the corners cut off. The inglenook seats, angled at 45 degrees, imply squares cut in half." The drawing which accompanies this
description---the only living-room furniture plan to be found in the usual sources----further suggests the concentricity of the arrangement that includes both
fireplace and furniture ensemble.

This figure is centered on the south wall of the room, leaving just enough room to the east for the cross-axis of library and music room.

Roderick can tell us to what degree this plan reflects the size and location of the built arrangement. The drawing seems incomplete; the upholstered seats
are not fully outlined. Are the seats closer to the fireplace than is the case with the final design ? Is not the front edge of the seat actually located about
where the double diagonal line appears on the drawing ?


Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:38 pm
by Roderick Grant
The plan is sketchy. The octagonal hearth as drawn is much larger than as built. The corners of the 'moat' are not clipped as in the plan. The trim around the moat is 8" wide, and there are 8" squares within. For an image of this feature, go to "Hollyhock House Interiors." The moat trim aligns with the 8"x16" posts that terminate the couches. Connect the first right angles of the moat in the drawing, and you will come closer to the final size. In Kathryn Smith's book, refer to chapter 12, page 119, for photos and drawings. On page 127 is a drawing which includes a section and half plan of the fireplace as built. There are 2 good historic photos on pp 130-1, and recent shots in the color section. At the north end, the couches are a mere 3' apart. The edge of the east table aligns with the music room/library axis, and the northwest corner of the tray atop the west torchier and the corresponding corner on the east are located directly under the point where the ceiling planes meet.

The ensemble went through many iterations, not far removed from the basic idea, but altered in detail. One version of the set reached blueprint stage, but was not close to what was eventually built.

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:56 pm
by Roderick Grant
Although not executed, there are several details for the living room meant to reinforce that realignment of axis: brass and glass light fixtures; a brass repousse fireplace screen; gold highlights on the bas relief over the fireplace. Several people have tried to figure out the 6 lamps without success. It is very hard to balance the corner of a cube on the peak of a pyramid. If the 4 tall lamps were made, the built-in tables at the east and west ends of the rooms are in place. The 4 pendant lights on the 2 torchiers could easily be made. In fact, Jim drilled a center hole down the post to allow for wiring just in case it was ever decided to add them. The screen and highlights could also be accomplished.

Perhaps now that the archive is online, some creative persons "out there in the dark!" could use their expertise to figure out how to finish the lamp structure. There are measured drawings from one direction, but its the other elevation that is causing angst.

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:37 pm
by SREcklund
In this past Wednesday's docent training session, Jeffrey Herr followed my presentation on Wright's timeline with his own on the house as it was in 1924. In it, he had a new image of the original end table attached to the reproduction couch, with the reproduction end table sitting alongside. You could see the mismatch in foot position noted earlier by the witness marks on the rug, and the edge of the table facing the person sitting at it was several inches deeper on the reproduction than the original. I'll see if I can get a copy if the image.

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:13 pm
by SDR
Donald Hoffmann writes evocatively of colors found in the living room:

"The room indeed means to speak of the Southwest; its colors are mainly the quiet pastels of desert earth tones and brave desert plants."

"Gold tiles in the pool by the hearth responded to the gold of the Japanese screens at the west corners of the room, and to the plaster walls of 'unevenly
tarnished gold' . . . The majestic ensemble of oak furniture---angled seats with cushions in brown frieze . . ."

"Oak moldings divide the ceiling into panels tinted a light Nile green, bronze, ochre and terra-cotta. Most of the floor was covered by a rug . . . The field
color was a light golden brown, and the pattern colors---a light teal blue, dull gold and violet---appeared in yet another hollyhock abstraction . . .

"The portiers again were of a brown frieze . . . 'with appliqué of old violet velvet and gold thread.' " About the leaded windows he writes: "The typical
glass design, accented with panes of violet (the color of desert shadows and distant hills)" . . .

("In the history of textiles, frieze (French: frisé) is a Middle English term for a coarse woollen, plain weave cloth with a nap on one side. The nap was
raised by scrubbing it to raise curls of fibre, and was not shorn after being raised, leaving an uneven surface.")


Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:14 pm
by SDR