Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life is a Tabouret

Furniture acquisitions have been relatively rare for the Martin House, so imagine my delight when we were able to acquire a Stickley tabouret (a small, round table) following my August trip to Florida.

The Craftsman tabouret was owned by Ms. Lora O'Kosky, whose ex-husband is Alexander Martin, son of Darwin R. Martin. The piece passed down through the Martin family and eventually landed in Lora's home in Tallahassee.

Use and location of the piece in the Martin House is uncl
ear, but plausible enough that we decided to add it to the collection. The piece can be traced to Darwin R. Martin's possessions; it's shown in one photo from a series of images taken of the younger Darwin's penthouse at 800 West Ferry (see image at left). Our assumption that it likely came from Darwin D. and Isabelle Martin's estate is based on the fact that they had other Stickley pieces of the same vintage (a tea table and chairs), and that Darwin R. retained a number of Wright-designed and Wright-approved pieces in his own estate. I think the tabouret was most likely used as a plant stand by the Martins, and as such there are a number of logical locations for it in the Martin House. For that matter, it's the kind of small, portable piece that they may have moved about frequently, so it may not have one particular historic "home base."

The majority of our collection acquisitions in recent years have been pieces of art glass, decorative objects or family items related to the Martin House. Furniture from the Martin House is less plentiful (as the Martin collection held by the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites already includes a majority of the original furniture) and thus comes to light in auctions or private collections less frequently.

We'll look forward to restoring this tabouret - made by Wright's Arts and Crafts contemporary just down the road in Eastwood, NY- and to finding a good spot for it in the restored Martin House interior.

Lora's cat will have to find a new spot to nap!

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