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Intimate Spaces of Renowned Artisans (5 Photos)

Intimate Spaces of Renowned Artisans (5 Photos)

All Photographs © Don Freeman

Artists’ Handmade Houses, published by Abrams with text written by Michael Gotkin and photography by Don Freeman, is a collection of handcrafted homes constructed between the late-19th century and mid 20-th century by the finest artists and craftsmen in America. Don Freeman captures the intimacy of these homes and the attention paid to every minute detail, from door knobs to stairwells to the structure of the house itself. The photographs in this book record exactly how the artists left the spaces when they dies or moved away. Some of the homes featured have been awarded National Historic Landmark status and several are open to the public, while some have fallen into disrepair or are in the hands of new owners.

Above:  Henry Chapman Mercer, Ceramicist, Fonthill, Doylestown, Pennsylvania. One of seven bedrooms and nine “chambers,” each of which is unique, the Dormer Room was Mercer’s original bedroom. The dresser on the right was designed by Mercer for the room, and the pictures above it are from his extensive collection of prints, more than one thousand of which hang on the walls of Fonthill.

 Raoul Hague, Sculpture artist, Woodstock, New York. Hague’s daybed, which he used for napping, listening to music, and reading, is nestled in an alcove to the right of the dining table (not visible). A silver-tape light shade, as well as a clock, hang above. A stereo and books, including a set of encyclopedias that the artist bound himself, are set on the shelves to the right.

 Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead & Jane Byrd McCall, Artists, White Pines, Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, New York. This Morris chair is in Jane McCall’s bedroom. The door on the right leads to a sleeping porch. Jane made the painting and ceramic pots on display above the built-in chest of drawers.

 Sam Maloof, Woodworker, Alta Loma, California. This space, built in 1975-76, was originally his wife Alfreda’s two-story office and studio. By 1990 it was a gallery and showroom. The spiral stair, made from scrap wood, was added in 1997. Pieces from the Maloofs’ collection of Native American pottery are displayed on the windowsill behind it. When viewed from the courtyard outside, the colorful stained glass window above the door reads “Alfreda.”

 Wharton Esherick, Woodworker, Paoli, Pennsylvania. The main gallery of Esherick’s studio contains work from all stages of his life. Among the most noteworthy are his 1929 flat-top desk with its 1962 top in the center of the room; his 1927 Arts and Crafts-style drop-leaf desk, which stands against the far wall in the southwest corner of the room; and to the right of the drop-leaf desk is his 1928 Pup, which he carved for his young daughter Ruth. The sculptures and the woodcuts hanging on the wall are all his, as well as the chairs, the swinging lamps, and the music stand in the background.

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  1. A great collection. But I was really drawn here by the first photo (Henry Mercer’s Bedroom). I grew up in Doylestown, his home town and the town in which that house (Font Hill) resides. Mercer is a local legend, founding the historical society and he was a collector of odds and ends. If you’re ever in Doylestown (Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA), check out Font Hill. Also be sure to check out Mercer Museum (right in the middle of town) to see the best (and most bizarre) collection of industrial revolution stuff you’ll ever see.

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