Voysey-influenced Early Table by Gustav Stickley

This uncatalogued, experimental table is similar to the example included in the exhibition The Kaufmann Collection: The Early Furniture of Gustav Stickley at the John Toomey Gallery in 1996. The present lot features slimmer yet sturdy legs, giving it a more balanced and modern look. According to author Thomas Maher, this form can be dated to the early period for the designer (1901-1902) due to its butt-joint construction. Darker shades and raised grains of the thick oak boards used also hint to it being an early work. At the inception of American Arts & Crafts Movement, designers were often inspired by innovative European designers who were steering away from conventional designs. This particular form was inspired by a table design by Charles F.A. Voysey, shown in International Studio, February 1901. A few years later, this form was commercially adapted to the chunkier five-legged model 634 with cross-stretchers, which was built with tongue-and-groove construction and ash legs with oak veneers.

Table design by Charles F.A. Voysey, International Studio, February 1901

Gustav Stickley

Gustav Stickley, whose name is synonymous with Craftsman furniture, was a visionary American proponent for the Arts and Crafts philosophy in design, literature, and life. At the peak of his career, his furniture was sold throughout the country, Craftsman houses built in many areas, and The Craftsman magazine widely read. After bankruptcy in 1915, Stickley was largely forgotten until the 1970s, when his importance as a designer was rediscovered by a new generation.

The eldest son of first generation German immigrants, Stickley was born into a family that owned furniture-manufacturing businesses. He found inspiration in the writings of John Ruskin and William Morris and the well-built, hand-crafted furniture and the brotherhood of honest labor they espoused. In 1898 he established the Gustav Stickley Company in Eastwood, a suburb of Syracuse, New York. He adopted a William Morris motto, "Als ik kan" ("If I can") and used the symbol of a medieval joiner’s compass as his trademark.

Stickley’s furniture was a radical departure from the American furniture of the Victorian era. Surfaces were unadorned, mortise and tenon joinery and wood grain exposed. The hammered metal hardware underscored the artisanal look of furniture, which was fabricated both by hand and by contemporary woodworking machines.

Auction Results Gustav Stickley