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Davenport House Andirons in the Dallas Museum of Art
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 1887
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:47 am    Post subject: Davenport House Andirons in the Dallas Museum of Art Reply with quote

The Dallas Museum of Art claims to have the Davenport House Fireplace Andirons. Fortunately the real Davenport Fireplace Andirons are where they belong, in storage at the Davenport House. I sent them an email pointing out this minor discrepancy only to be dismissed. I have been appalled by inaccuracies in attributing work in museum collections.

http://www.howisjulie.com/?p=2123
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Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn
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PrairieMod



Joined: 24 Feb 2006
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Location: www.prairiemod.com

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The andirons in the photo at the museum look a little too perfect, IMHO. You'd think since they would show a little more wear and tear if they were original.
Museums have been taken-in before by dubious people selling objects that aren't what they are advertised to be--my guess is that this is another example.
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 1897
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Harding: Do the originals at the house match the design of those at the museum? If they are the same, something shifty may have happened with the acquisition....if the design is different, this could be a misattribution of the house from which the objects came, or possibly even the designer.

PrairieMod has a point about the condition though. Even if cleaned up and oiled, one would think there would be some patina or character to the surfaces and edges of 100+ year old objects kept in a fireplace.
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MHOLUBAR



Joined: 03 Mar 2006
Posts: 132
Location: Oberlin, Ohio

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there only one fireplace in the Davenport House, perhaps there was another one that was not much used. On the other hand any one that collects makes some mistakes, and Museums tend to have more objects than they can really study.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 4575

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 3:54 pm    Post subject: What is Art? ... aside from Garfunkle. Reply with quote

The movie "Vérités et mensonge" (1974) is a quasi-documentary by Orson Welles, shown in the US as "Fake" at Filmex, focussing on art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer, Clifford Irving (who wrote the notorious fake bio of Howard Hughes). The number of art forgeries by de Hory that grace the hallowed walls of museums throughout the world is not known, but one estimate is that if Corot had painted all the paintings attributed to him by museum evidence, he would have to have produced a painting a day from birth to death, over 20,000 of them. Of course, no museum would ever admit that their Corot is fake. Welles also went to many museums with a de Hory Modigliani, telling some curators they were certain it was authentic, and others they knew for a fact that it was fake, and just wanted verification, which they got time and again: yes, it's real; yes it's fake. No one knew what they were talking about. They have a vested interest in being correct, but they undoubtedly know that in many cases they are not.
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Jeff Myers



Joined: 22 Feb 2009
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Location: Tulsa

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Same with the Price chair. It looks like the back is bigger than the ones used at Price Tower. 2 are or have been sold here in Tulsa at Mod 50's for $1,000. It was an Executive Chair and an Office Chair that were being sold. Carolyn Price gave them to Mod 50's to sell and I thought it was cool to see one and touch it with out having someone get on to you.
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 1887
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good friend of mine, Cengez Yetken, worked for Louis Kahn. In the early 80's the Art Institue of Chicago purchased 3 drawings from his estate. Cengez went over to the Art institute to see 3 Louis Kahn drawings when they were unveiled to the public with pomp and ceremony. One of the drawings attibuted to Louis Kahn was my friend's drawing, not Louis Kahn's. A few weeks later he wrote the curator of that department and pointed out the rather serious discrepancy. They met at the museum and the curator listened politely and told Cengez that there was nothing that could be done to change the attribution. To this day the Art Institue has that beautiful drawing by my friend attibuted to Louis Kahn.
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W. Wilson



Joined: 20 Dec 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am doing some research with Gaines and Sharon Hall, current owners of the Bradley House in Kankakee, Illinois, with respect to their restoration of the Bradley House. In his book, the Decorative Designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, David Hanks notes that the Bradley House andirons, "the present location of which is unknown," were identical to those in the Davenport House. Perhaps the Dallas Museum of Art actually has the Bradley House andirons in its collection and is unaware of the proper attribution.

Many items from the Bradley House, including windows and furniture, were sold over the years and are currently in private and museum collections. We recently had the opportunity to see three of five chairs from the Bradley House that are in the collection of the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago.

Would you be willing to allow Gaines, Sharon, and me to see the andirons from your home? The Halls are thinking of reproducing some of the items from the house and would appreciate an opportunity to obtain detailed measurements and photographs of the andirons.
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 1887
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr./Ms. Wilson,

I don't believe that we have ever met. Do I know you?

The Frank Lloyd Wright Andirons in the E. Arthur Davenport House are valuable and unique original artwork. They are an important feature of an historically significant Frank Lloyd House that I have invested an enormous amount of professional expertise, time, and money far beyond what my wife and children will ever recover from the eventual sale of the house. I have been exceedingly generous with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and advancing the understanding Wright's architecture through expensive research and laboratory testing. I have the highest respect for what Gaines and Sharon have done with their Frank Lloyd Wright House. However I decline your proposition.

Since you are working in some advisory capacity why not just buy some old cannon balls on the internet and use them?
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W. Wilson



Joined: 20 Dec 2008
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Harding,

No, we have not met to the best of my knowlege. I apologize if I have somehow offended you, but apparently I have given the tone of your response.

I am simply looking to obtain as much information as I can about the original furnishings of the Bradley House most of which, unfortunately, have been scattered across the country and are in unknown, private hands. Since David Hanks stated that the Bradley and Davenport Houses had identical andirons, I was simply hoping that Gaines and Sharon Hall might be able to view them. A picture of the Davenport andirons appears in Hanks book, so we will apparently have to be content with that alone.

Again, I apologize for requesting that we have the opportunity to see your andirons. The Smart Museum was kind enough to allow us to see some of the original furniture from the Bradley House, to take measurements, and to photograph the items. I did not appreciate that my request was stepping over a line.
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Kevin W. Tucker



Joined: 13 May 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 3:06 pm    Post subject: DMA Wright Andirons Reply with quote

Please allow me to introduce myself as the curator responsible for the decorative arts and design holdings at the Dallas Museum of Art.

I encountered this thread in an unrelated search and feel compelled to correct the record concerning the Wright-designed andirons presently on view in the Museum's galleries.

This pair of andirons is privately owned and on loan to the DMA. While on view at the Museum, there has never been copy indicating they are the exact andirons from the Davenport House - in fact, there is absolutely no mention of the Davenport property in our label copy. As such, I have no idea how someone could have come to this conclusion that the DMA was listing the works as such - and I have never personally been contacted by anyone in this regard. As to the individual posting the lead question in this thread, I invite you to contact me at 214-922-1200 (ext. 1399) to discuss your contact with the museum and the source of the DMA's "Davenport attribution." If some contact was rebuffed by other parties in the Museum, I apologize for such and hope you will take this opportunity to detail your concerns with me.

Also, with clues from their provenance, we are pursuing information about where (else) Wright may have used this design, including at the Bradley House, in hopes of positively identifying their original location.

Regarding the comment about the state of the andirons, they are in excellent condition, and have been examined and treated by our conservator, a specialist in metals.

Our staff is, of course, very concerned about the accuracy of information which accompanies works of art, whether relative to objects lent to the Museum or our own collections. Indeed, it is an elemental responsibility in fulfilling our mission.

Sincerely,
Kevin W. Tucker
The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design
Dallas Museum of Art
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Kevin W. Tucker



Joined: 13 May 2009
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject: Bradley House Reply with quote

Regarding W. Wilson's post about the Halls and the Bradley House, I also invite you to contact me at 214-922-1200 (ext. 1399) as to your research and our own effort to identify the original association of the andirons at the Dallas Museum of Art.

My thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Kevin W. Tucker
The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design
Dallas Museum of Art
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 1887
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for interest in clarifying this issue.

I contacted the Dallas Museum of Art and asked the staff to check the label. Below are the emails going back and forth. The emails were clear about attribution to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Davenport House. There were other phone calls in which I was politely blown off when I pointed the obvious error. I have mistakenly assumed that museums cared about accuracy and would rely on a paper trail as opposed to just guessing where important, valuable art objects came from. I was told that the attribution would not be changed from Wright and the Davenport House because the objects were on loan and that the private collector was responsible for attribution. Thus nothing could be changed.

Dear Mr. Harding,

I apologize for any confusion I have caused. I received some misinformation. Our andirons are in fact a loan and are not in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Thank you,

Holly Harrison



From: Paul A. Harding FAIA
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 3:03 PM
To: Holly Harrison
Subject: Re: DVP Frank Lloyd Wright Davenport House Fireplace Andirons

Hello,
Thank you for responding to my email. I am both the Owner and Restoration Architect for Frank Lloyd Wright's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House in River Forest, Illinois. The original 1901 Frank Lloyd Wright Andirons are still in the house where they have been for the last 108 years. It is impossible that the andirons in your collection can be the original Davenport andirons. Please correct your records as the Dallas Museum makes it look like I sold valuable historic artifacts out of the house. I have ideas about how to test what you have for authenticity and I know what house that they might be from.

Sincerely,
Paul

Paul A. Harding, FAIA

H A R D I N G P A R T N E R S

224 South Michigan Avenue
Suite 245
Chicago, Illinois 60604

312.922.2600 main
312.265.5310 direct
312.922.8222 fax

--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Holly Harrison
To: Paul A. Harding FAIA
Sent: Tue Apr 21 13:49:52 2009
Subject: DVP Frank Lloyd Wright Davenport House Fireplace Andirons

Dear Mr. Harding,

I am writing to confirm with you that the Frank Lloyd Wright Davenport House Fireplace Andirons are housed in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Holly Harrison

Curatorial Administrative Assistant
European and American Art
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood
Dallas, TX 75201

(214) 922.1833
(214) 720.0862 fax
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Paul Harding FAIA Owner and Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, the First Prairie School House in Chicago | www.harding.com | LinkedIn


Last edited by pharding on Wed May 13, 2009 5:38 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Kevin W. Tucker



Joined: 13 May 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 4:36 pm    Post subject: Andirons Reply with quote

I appreciate the copies of the correspondence and have reviewed this with Ms. Harrison.

Unfortunately, your query should have been directed to the decorative arts and design department for reply and not our fine arts department, thus I apologize for the incomplete and inaccurate response. As you know, Ms. Harrison was in error in referencing the Davenport House in her original reply to you. In so much as these works have never been attributed at the DMA as Davenport pieces, I will have to investigate further the details of your telephone conversations with other staff.

Again, apologies for this miscommunication and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Sincerely,
Kevin W. Tucker
The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design
Dallas Museum of Art
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Julie



Joined: 13 May 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject: Andirons Reply with quote

I hope this entry gets to where I want it to go since I just now joined the Wright Chat in order to correct an error I made on my blog. I visited the Dallas Museum of Art in April and loved my visit, taking pictures and later posting them to my blog. I am the one who referenced the Davenport Home under my picture of the andirons. In my haste to write my blog after returning home, I attributed them to the Davenport home. Had I read my source fully I would have learned that more than one copy was made. The Dallas Museum made no such reference.
I am a new fan of Wright and have been to his home in Oak Park and Scottsdale only this year. You should have seen those pictures on my blog; but then again, maybe you all have! I will be more careful in what I write in the future. Originally, I thought that only about 5 people would ever even see my postings which are mainly pictures of what I eat!!
Mea culpa.
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