Monday, September 10, 2012

Mr. Vanderbilt's HOUSE and COLLECTION - Japanese Drawing-Room

***Click HERE to view the introduction to this book.*** 


 ***Photos and text from Mr. Vanderbilt's House and Collection, described by Edward Strahan pseudo Earl Shinn - the Holland Edition published in 1883.***




VIEW IN THE JAPANESE PARLOR
 EAST END
DRAWN BY ESQUIRON. PRINTED BY AUBRY



JAPANESE PARLOR
NORTH-WEST CORNER
DRAWN BY THURWANGER. PRINTED BY LEMERCIER.

HOOD OF CHIMNEY-PIECE IN JAPANESE PARLOR.
 DESIGNED BY CH. GOUTZWILLER.



CLOCK IN JAPANESE TASTE.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.
The second drawing-room, communicating on the south with the first one, is known as the Japanese Parlor. Here all the furniture and decorations are in Japanese taste, and, as far as may be, of Japanese origin. The very clock upon the wall is a deceptive imitation of some masterpiece of Japan art, with a gong-like face all embroidered with cloisonne enamels, in which the Roman numerals for the hours struggle to be understood through their puzzling mimicry of the Mongolian alphabet.

A peculiarity which especially imposes on the eye is the ceiling; it is so insistantly Eastern in character that the roving visitor, straying into the room with eyes abstractedly aloft, is persuaded that the genie has transported him, if not into a room of Aladdin's palace in Cathay, at least into the boudoir of a favorite princess in the Taicoon's residence. Through the interstices   of an open   truss-ceiling  of red-lacquered  beams, appear the  angles of a hip-roof of bamboo, lined and   thatched  completely with the golden tubes  of   that   beautiful   reed.     The   effect is not only  merely novel and foreign, but  completley graceful. Not only is the trellis of rafter-work  underneath thoroughly Japanese-looking, with its coating  deceptively imitative of the  red   Miaco   or  Soochou lacquer, and its characteristic sheathing of ornate metalwork at every extremity and insertion; but, seen   beyond and  through   this, the  roofwork of innumerable bamboos, first rising in clustered 


CURTAIN WITH JAPANESE EMBROIDERY OF ELEPHANTS.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

columns and mitred panels around the cornice, and then leaning in serried ranks to support the flat central portion of the ceiling, seems like a haunt for the temple-birds of some pagoda. You look around for the idol, a dreamy Buddha or sanctified dragon; but there are no idols, and no birds; only, clinging  everywhere to the lacework of bamboo, are enormous jewelled dragonflies, motionless among the innumerable reeds as if the tropical summer were too warm to let them willingly stir. 


JAPANESE PARLOR AND LAMPIDIERES.
LOOKING INTO DRAWING-ROOM.
DRAW BY DURIN.     PRINTED BY CHAMPENIOS. 


CHIMNEYPIECE IN THE JAPANESE ROOM.
PHOTOGRAVURE

Under this sheltering roof made up of Eastern fancies, the apartment is found to be a perfect cabinet of Oriental rarities, 


VIEW IN JAPANESE PARLOR.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

more distinctly a collector's treasury than any room in the house, and so furnished and appointed as to give the valuables contained in it their most becoming setting. The hood of the mantel in this room resembles the doorway of a Japanese palace, with its flaring tent-shaped rooflet or pediment rising high above the fireplace. The lacquered pilasters supporting it are sheathed at their extremities with bronze sockets wrought into clusters of chrysanthemums; between them, overhead, spreads a frieze of Japanese cranes flying among the clouds, gilded and deeply undercut; while the pentroof, heavy and of tentlike curve as befits a Japanese pediment, swings out boldly from the wall and rises by a concave curve to the cornice, a triumph of skillful borrowing.


PERSPECTIVE INTO DINING-ROOM.
DESIGNED BY CH. KREUTZBERGER.
The walls, so far as one can see them, are spread with a low-toned damask of flowery Oriental pattern, spaced here and there with banner-like embroideries in Japanese uncut velvet which hang from the cornice with appropriate apparatus of silk cords and tassels. The shelfwork is so elaborate, however, that the walls are scarcely observed. This fantastic piece of joinery runs around the room with its successions of intricate shelves rising or hanging at every possible height according to the labyrinthine fashion of an Oriental etagere; the whole finished in lacquer, with plenty of carved ivory closet-doors or panels of golden daisies and peonies.

The chairs, of many original designs - the most elaborate being represented in the tailpiece to this chapter — are plentifully fringed and embroidered, and might be
hoisted on a pole by a prince of Nippon, when they would serve very well for his standards of battle. Selected Japan embroideries of a rare kind, in quaint shapes - 
fan-shape or moon-shape or fish-shape - form the backs and seats of this exotic upholstery. The carpet underfoot is Eastern in effect, with its geometric patterns like daimios' badges overlying it at irregular intervals. The panels of the lacquered doors have an enormous daisy-like or sunflower-like rosette. Even the fender which surrounds the fireplace is divided up into a series of lobes or screens which are Oriental in character, being of the peculiar oval seen in a Japanese sword-hilt. Japan has lent its ideas and its esthetic stamp, even where the workmanship is American.


JAPANESE LAMP-BEARING FIGURE.
IN  BRONZE AND OTHER METALS, BY GUILLEMIN.
PHOTOGRAVURE

The fine portiere of which the design is here presented owes its originality to the border of Japanese embroideries representing elephants.    Heavily worked in silks, these 


CURTAIN, BRONZE VASE, AND TABLE.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

ponderous and pompous beasts are applied to the velvet, a whole herd of them. The elephant is not a native of the Japanese islands, and it is probable that the embroiderer has done his task without ever having seen one; hence the usual accuracy and realism for which the national art is so famous when it deals with natural history, is quite lacking in the frequent representations of elephants, giving place to a treatment altogether heraldic, sacred, or conventional. The introduction of the Buddhist religion has imposed upon the artist of Nippon a constant reference to the animal, without carrying with it the proper artistic documents; so that the most keen-eyed naturalists known to the world of art are perpetually forced to contradict their most cherished artistic habits, and represent as best they may a creature of which they only have priestly or legendary; information. 


CLOISONNE VASE, SUPPORTED BY STORKS
.DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.
The pair of light-bearing statues, nearly life-size, representing Japanese damsels, are of modern French work; they form characteristic door-supports, in perfect harmony with the general ornamentation of the room. They were executed by the sculptor Guillemin for the well-known goldsmith's house of Christoile, when the art-department of that establishment was in charge of M. Reiber, now with Deck the pottery manufacturer, and author of a book on methods of design for primary instruction. M. Guillemin has admirably caught the character of the Japanese visage and dress, and has produced a sort of idealized apology for the mild but feather-headed tea-girl of Tokio. The statues are of bronze, encrusted and plated on the surface with silver, gold, and other metals according to the ornamental
exigencies of the design.

The elaborate stained-glass window looking upon Fifth avenue is equally appropriate. The glorious peacock which forms its chief decoration, and the flowers and other accessories, are properly treated as a Japanese colorist would have treated them. Fantastic and gorgeous rather than possible, the bird is a bird of eastern fairyland. Nothing could be in more faultless yet more daring taste than this orgie of transparent color, confined in a design that is obediently held in keeping with the destination and purpose. The curve of the drooping tail reminds one of the fanlike spreading of the base of a cataract - in this instance a cataract of living gems. The artist, Mr. John Lafarge, has shown himself in this place a rare colorist and a designer who knows perfectly how to throw himself into the spirit of a given school of art. - The fantastic daring of the painter of Japan seems to have been placed at the service of a glass-stainer as able as the maker of a mediaeval cathedral window. No country but America has reached this perfection of taste and technical skill in glasswork, which combines the splendor of the middle ages with ideas only just revealed to us by the Orient.


THE JAPANESE ROOM
NORTH-WEST CORNER
PHOTOGRAVURE

The curiosities which find a shelter in this room arc of the most varied kinds,—lacquers, cloisonne' enamels, bronzes, potteries; as a rule, they are of Oriental origin, as befits the 


FLEMISH IVORY TANKARD:   ORPHEUS KILLED BY THE MAENADS.
 DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

local genius of the place. Objects in ivory are admitted, although carved in Europe - no more appropriate repository being found in the house than the Japanese parlor; we may imagine that the presiding genius has lodged them here on account of the Oriental origin of the material; or that, as is often found in a Japanese palace, they have been left by the Dutch traders in exchange for rarities of the country.

CLOISONNE VASE, Supported by Storks. This large vase, ample enough for a baptismal font, has a globular body, and is supported on three figures of storks, completely modelled in the round; so that these aquatic waders uphold the vessel on their six slender feet. As this work may reach a class of readers who have not devoted much attention to enamels, it 


FLEMISH IVORY TANKARD:   TRIUMPH OF BACCHUS.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

is proper to explain that, of the three divisions of the art, cloisonne, champ-leve, and taille d'epargne, the first is almost exclusively a specialty of China and Japan. No western nation has succeeded in imitating the probably simple but effectual process by which to fasten the wire divisions or cloisons, which separate the colors, to the body of the object. The Easterns do it with a simple glue or cement, of vegetable or animal composition, which presents sufficient resistance until the firing blends the whole into a homogeneous mass. They use this cement to enlace the object, whether bronze or porcelain, with a design in wire-work; the wires form partitions in which the colored pastes, made of powdered glass, are plastered; when all the cloisons are properly filled, the object is fired in a kiln; but as the enamel has the property of shrinking in the heat, the recesses have to be filled and fired as many as eight times before the 


SATSUMA VASE, WITH BEARS AND FALCON.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

enamel is flush with its wire boundaries.    The skill used to fire an elaborate object so often without cracking the enamel, is to us almost inconceivable. After the last firing the object is commonly polished to a smooth surface; though we sometimes see specimens in which the enamel is left irregular, with happy effect.

IVORY TANKARD : Orpheus Killed by the Maenads. This is Flemish work, of the seventeenth century. The ivory is very deeply undercut, with a crowded composition, good and graceful for the period, completely surrounding the tusk. Orpheus, inseparable from his lyre, is assailed on all sides by the furious priestesses, who attack him with rocks and clubs. On the cover is a device of very different taste - some knight of William the Silent rides off to battle on his heavy Flanders steed. The gold mounting includes a dragon used as a handle, very free and spirited.

IVORY TANKARD: Triumph of Bacchus.   This fine hanap would 


SATSUMA VASE:   BUDDHIST SAINT AND DISCIPLES.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

seem to be by some of the many Dutch artists who tried to get the Italian lightness of hand; the nymph who presses the grapes into Bacchus' hand is by a carver who has surely seen the nymphs of Albano and Guido. The rococo handle, with its winged Cupid, the children playing in the cartouches, and the pretty genius on the cover running along with his wine-cup, are equally of Dutch workmanship, but of Dutch workmanship which, like the painting of the brothers Bril, wishes to cross the Alps.

VASE WITH BEARS AND FALCON.   A magnificent falcon preening 


PLEASURE BOATING-PARTY
JAPANESE BRONZE
PHOTOGRAVURE

its feathers, which in the material are freely lifted up from the surface, perches on the shoulder of the vase; in a cave beneath a she-bear plays with her cub, and on the further side a misanthropic bear promenades sulkily on a promontory, like Heine's  Atta Troll. The detached work of the foliage and rocks once again proves the Japanese the only "landscape sculptors" in existence. The material is finely crackled pottery, of the kind known in commerce as Satsuma ware, though Dr. Dresser and the experts would probably give it a narrower geographical baptism.

VASE WITH BUDDHIST SAINT. Dr. Dresser's work, describing his art-mongering travels, may again be consulted for the proper assignment of this specimen of pottery, also called Satsuma in the curiosity-shops. Some hermit, doing service in his art to the religion come to him from far-away India, has probably elaborated this tribute to a Buddhist saint, whose apparition in a golden halo astonishes a group of worshipers. The spreading landscape, showing the sands and streams of a kind of Asiatic Thebaid, is well indicated with powdered gold and wandering lines as tender as the background of Leonardo's "Gioconda". The shape of the vase, precisely that 
ANCIENT DUTCH BELL, WINDMILL FORM.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.
of one of our old-fashioned butter-biggins, is intended as a tribute of religious  simplicity by  the  artist, who   undoubtedly performs an act of pious devotion in preparing his chaste and   cloister-like Decoration. 

BELL IN THE FORM OF A WINDMILL. This is Holland work, of about the period of Ostade and Teniers, as is seen by the costume of the miller, who toils up the staircase, sack on shoulder. The sleepy canals of Rotterdam or Haarlem should be imagined at the base of these little silver mill-sails, fabricated by some artist true to his country even in his whitesmith-work. A clock is set in the gable of the mill. The base spreads into the shape of a Dutch vrow's petticoat or vertugadin, decorated with a fine granulated kind of repousse which modern jewellers might copy with great chances of making a sensation equal to that of the hammered surfaces now so much in vogue.

STATUETTE OF AN ELEPHANT. To get his base of cloisonne enamel, and add color to his subject, the Eastern jeweller has not hesitated to submit all his delicate casting repeatedly to the fire. The design and finish of the howdah on the animal's back is entirely Indian in taste; but the fan-shaped ears of the elephant indicate the African species, while the head, except the exaggerated eye, indicates the true Japanese realism. The chasing on the hide elaborately reproduces the dry chapped skin of a pachyderm.

CHIMAERAS IN TERRA-COTTA. The scrollwork on the base is of the kind often copied by the Mohammedan sculptor or architect from the friezes left by the Romans in every part of their spreading empire; but while he has imitated this part of his subject with grace and freedom, the clumsiness of the animals betrays the artist forbidden by his religion to 
STATUETTE OF ELEPHANT.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.
represent living creatures. Ornaments in this kind of taste are characteristic of all the countries covered by Turkish rule; we find them in the Danubian principalities until yesterday governed by the Sultan; in Turkey proper, and even in the old sacristy jewels of Poland and Russia. " Europe's arts and Asia's jeweled hands," in the past ages, used to turn out these singular combinations, partly classic, partly fantastic enough to satisfy a hashish-eater, but always symbolic in meaning. The free treatment of the terra-cotta, where every hair of an animal's mane is a separate thread of clay, indicates great technical perfection in the potter's art in this mystical curiosity.

PLAQUE IN "IVOIRE DEROULE". It is the purpose of this work to illustrate as well the triumphs of modern art-industry, when they are novel and instructive, as the relics of the past The process of unrolling ivory into sheets, and using these for objects of greater diameter than the natural tusks, is an invention of a Paris maker, Giroux, of the Boulevard des Capucincs. The inevitable cracks introduced by the process into the material are advantageously used to give the effect of "crackled" ware, as known in Eastern ceramics. Accordingly the design and mounting are in Japanese taste, and the hawthorn branches follow the cracks, as they would in a porcelain vase. The designer, whose name is Plangon, has introduced a more modern-looking bird in his centerpiece than the three archaic birds which support the dish.

JAPANESE BRONZE: The Boating-Party. Supported on a table of teakwood carved into lace, in itself a curiosity, is the bronze group representing a pleasure-boat, with revellers and crew. There is a pedestal of foamy waves, represented with the usual Japanese freedom, and on these rides the boat, the grain of whose planks is copied in a damascene of silver wire. The boat is protected by a roof, from all whose corners large lanterns are hanging, four times bigger than the bodies of the guests; underneath take place the festivities, enlivened by a music-girl with her guitar; one guest rises to point out the track to the man at the tiller; at the prow a boatman poles his way along; and an obese host at the head of the table enjoys the feast, the music, and the calm. This is one of the prodigious toys in which the Japanese sculptors excel, exhausting in a merry subject every perplexity and terror of the bronze-founder's difficulties.

LACQUER COFFER: The Seven Sages.   This large coffer is a fine specimen from the hands of the old Japanese workers in lacquer.    The mythological subject is not Japanese but 


CHIMERAS:   ORIENTAL TERRA-COTTA.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

Chinese, showing how the Shinto religion is faithfully derived from Chinese sources by the newer civilization at the north. The lettering seen in a line at the left indicates that the design is sculptured by a Japanese named Ichichosai; at the right is a raised cartouche indicating the subject: "Music and Dancing of the Seven Sages of China." A sort of kettledrum and a kind of accordeon are played by the venerable philosophers at the right; a pair at the left are exercising on the guitar and flute; the remaining three are waving their long sleeves in a dance; and all are laughing to split their sides except the flutist, whose playing prevents that expression of his philosophy. The covering of so large a surface with finest lacquer without a flaw adds great technical interest to a delightful specimen of Eastern art
and opinion.

IVORY CARVING: The Judgment of Solomon. This plaque, enormous considering the material, is fourteen by twelve inches in size. It is kept in the beautiful closet or shrine with 


PLAQUE IN "IVOIRE DEROULE".
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.

ivory doors seen in the views of the mantelpiece. The young king on his lion-throne directs the feigned execution, and  the mothers betray themselves according to the history. The figures are in the taste of Rubens, and the work is Flemish of about his date: the artist has inspired himself at many founts, however; it is pretty certain that the carver of the Moses represented in one of the niches has seen the Moses of Michael Angelo. This superb ivory is in wonderful preservation.

IVORY VASE: The Finding of Moses. Occupying the width of a large tusk, this rich old carving represents a group of women, with Pharaoh's daughter in a radiated crown ready to take the babe from Miriam's arms. The female types are evidently inspired by Rubens, and the work is probably Antwerp of his period. Notwithstanding the opulence of flesh characteristic of the school, the craftsmanship is flowing, graceful and stately; it might be called painting in ivory, with all the Flemish morbidezza retained.

IVORY HEXAGONAL CASKET.    The sides are built up of rectangular ivory morsels, each carved with one or more 


JAPANESE LACQUER CASKET
WITH SCARED DANCE OF THE SEVEN SAGES OF CHINA
CARVED BY  Ichichosai OF JAPANPHOTOGRAVURE


THE JUDGEMENT OF SOLOMON.
RELIEF IN IVORY
PHOTOGRAVURE


DRINKING FLAGON OF STEPHEN
 KING OF POLAND, 1582
PHOTCHROME

figures, together making up a series of facets. At each angle is a standing figure like Donatello's St. George, with club and shield. The subject of the legend is continued in consecutive panels, overshadowed with the trees of a dense forest; in one the hero dreams, between a winged apparition of God the Father and three nude nymphs. The design is in the Italian taste of the Giotto period, and the marquetry-work in which the ivories are mounted reflects the elegance of Giotto's campanile.

DRINKING-FLAGON OF STEPHEN, KING OF POLAND. This royal drinking-cup, in silver parcel-gilt, and dated 1582, is from the San Donato sale, held in Florence in March, 1880. The catalogue description was as follows: "A vidrecomc, of curious form, being a hanap in silver repousse.  At the base, four owls in niches, from which rise four dragons bearing caparisons with the Russian imperial eagle and St. George on horseback; on the circumference, four oval medallions with male and female hunting figures. The cover, ornamented with infants terminating in scrollwork, fighting with chimeras, is crowned with a medallion bearing the bust-portrait of "Stephanus, D. G. rex Poloniae, anno 1582." A vidrecome is a welcome-cup, the term for welcome in German giving it the name. The catalogue account is in error
where it speaks of the eagles; they are not the twin-headed eagle of Russia, but the single-headed white eagle of Poland; the founder of the kingdom saw a white eagle fly from its eyrie, and adopted the bird as his emblem, and the place of its nest as the site of his capital.

DUTCH SHIP, in Silver-gilt. This antique pinnace, coming over to America full-manned, must be as much amazed as Columbus' "Pinta," when she found herself in canoe-covered waters.   The man in the lookout, with his gesture of unconquerable surprise, pretty distinctly expresses such a feeling. The relic is very curious and characteristic. The Dutch, as inventors of modern commerce, loved to show such emblems of their seafaring supremacy, as the centre-piece of a feast, or the conquering badge among the Chinese spoils of a cabinet. Here we see the captain and his officers in the stern-castle, surrounded by halberdiers in RipVan-Winkle breeches; the shrouds swarming with active sailors; the flag flying, the sail bellying, the pilot at the prow, all full of character, down to the shells and waves at the bottom of the pedestal.

ELEPHANT VASE. The lifted trunk forms a graceful spout, and the elephant's head from which it proceeds gives weight and dignity to the base of the vessel. The Japanese people depicted on the sides in various metals have the elegance, the tranquility, and the inherent improbability of their kind. The squareness of the handle adds a sort of architectural firmness to a design otherwise almost as loose as the rolling lines of a wine-skin. This design, in strangest Eastern taste, gives appropriate vehicle to a wondrous study of metallic colors, in the different substances artfully combined to make up this chromatic cosmos of beautiful surfaces.

MOUNTED NAUTILUS SHELL. At the time when the pearl nautilus was very rare, and only known in Europe through the India trade of the Dutch, it was the custom of patrician families to have specimens carved and mounted with gold and silver, as an emblem of marine conquest; and truly no surface more naturally beautiful can be presented for the field of a cameo than this spiral staircase of living pearl, on which Holmes has written the most beautiful of his poems. The silver stand of this rare dpergite, therefore, is composed of fishes and aquatic emblems, and the shell itself is enchased with graceful aquatic figures in an ingenious device. The workmanship is of the seventeenth century, and of German origin, perhaps Munich.    Augsbourg, a neighboring city, has yielded to the South Kensington Museum a correspondingly fine specimen.


CHAIR, WITH JAPANESE EMBROIDERIES.
DESIGNED BY R. M. LANCELOT.


DUTCH SHIP IN SILVER GILT.
PHOTOCHROME
VASE OF DIFFERENT METALS
ORIENTAL DESIGN
PHOTOCHROME
ANCIENT NACELLE
SCULPTURED NAUTILUS.    SILVER MOUNTED.
DRAWN BY NOEL. PRINTED BY JEHENNE






1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Japanese Art, thanks for the post
    Here,a very nice Japanese Gallery in Paris (France)
    Yakimono Paris

    ReplyDelete