A Draftsman's Stool

from the Collection of LaMont A. Warner

The present lot originates from the collection of LaMont Adelbert Warner, a designer and head draftsman for Gustav Stickley between 1900 and 1906. A multi-faceted artist who received formal training at the Pratt Institute, Warner created art and design most of his life while educating the next generation as an instructor at various institutions, including the School of Household Arts at Columbia University and Stamford Central school. In her 1909 article in The House Beautiful, Louise Shrimpton speaks of Warner: “Formerly designer of furniture and other products for Gustav Stickley, Mr. Warner is now teaching the principles of interior decoration, furniture and costume design, and color harmony in his department at the university.” Warner kept a handful of fumed oak furniture for his personal use upon his departure from Stickley, sixteen of which he brought with him during his move back to his family homestead in Stamford, NY in the 1930s. These important works were passed down through the family upon Warner’s death in 1970, before they were offered in a sale at Christie’s on June 8, 2000. The present lot was purchased at the aforementioned sale and kept in a private collection until now.

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.