Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Piece of the Print Puzzle

 by EJF

Frank Lloyd Wright prescribed some two dozen Japanese ukiyo-e prints for his "domestic symphony," the Darwin D. Martin House.  At the time (c. 1905), Wright was becoming a connoisseur and dealer in these easily-collectible tokens of Japonisme.  More significantly, he saw in them the sort of organic expression and underlying geometry that resonated with his own approach to design.  An array of Wright-curated ukiyo-e prints once graced the piers of the Martin House, and we are very fortunate to have the majority of this collection reassembled today. Recently, two more Martin family prints have been added to the collection by generous descendants: Darwin Martin (Jerry) Foster and Mark Armesto.
In planning the implementation of the Martin House historic furnishings report, this comprehensive collection of prints has been an invaluable resource.  The locations to hang most of the prints could be determined by scrutinizing the various historic photos of the Martin House interior, but a few mysteries remained.  Some of the blanks could be filled-in with relative certainty via the process of elimination, drawing on various clues as to size, format and subject matter of prints in the collection.  But one nagging spot remained:  a landscape-oriented print shown in one family photo of the living room looking southeast toward the veranda. The reflection off the glazing obscures the image, and the identity of this white rectangle eluded me for longer than I'd care to admit.

Sometimes, the dots are so easily connected that the line can be overlooked.  We knew that the Martins' grandson, Jerry Foster, had a Japanese print hanging proudly in his living room, and he had indicated that he would consider gifting it to the Martin House when the time was right.  Pondering the mystery print in the living room photo, I had a sudden realization: that time was at hand!  Sure enough, Jerry's print appeared to have the same framed size and mat dimensions as the one shown in the puzzling photo.  While we are not able to match the image to that in the obscured photo, the other factors fit;  one of the final pieces of the Martin House print puzzle had snapped into place.  Given our need to create faithful giclée reproductions of the Martin prints for installation in the soon-to-be-restored interior, Jerry and his wife Hanne have graciously agreed to send the print to us.  

Now, on to the second floor, where the total lack of photographic evidence will make the process of print placement there somewhat like a game of Sudoku with my eyes closed.



 Martin House Director of Operations Margie Stehlik with Hanne and Jerry Foster at the Martin House.

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