Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/35457095/

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

Designed by Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932), this room, which served as the Carnegie family library, celebrates a passion for the exotic that blossomed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Collectors and painters flocked to the Middle and Far East for examples of extraordinary craftsmanship, inspiration for interior decoration, and unusual settings to paint. Among them were de Forest and the landscape painter Frederic E. Church (1826-1900), de Forest's painting teacher and advisor in foreign travel and design. Lockwood de Forest became the principal promoter of Indian design for American aesthetic interiors. During his yearlong honeymoon in 1881 to India, he established a studio in Ahmedabad, in Gujarat. Guided by Muggunbhai Hutheesing, a Jain merchant, he employed master craftsmen to create decorative teak wood and brass panels that he imported to the United States. Known informally as the Teak Room, this room is the most complete de Forest interoir remaining in its original location. The patterned wall stenciling, lacquered in yellow, creates a golden light, and suggests Indian jalis (screens). Although the walls and ceiling were painted on canvas in situ, the carved teak came from de Forest's studio in India, using primarily native designs he adapted. This exhibition provides the first opportunity to experience, in a de Forest-created room, the range of de Forest's achievements with objects he produced in his workshop or collected, a selection of his paintings, and those of Church, his mentor.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/52272397/

  • cut and carved red sandstone
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art, Gift of Frederick M. Ayres, William C. Bobbs, Mrs. Linnaeus C. Boyd, Mrs. William H. Coburn, Fred C. Dickson, James I. Dissette, Mrs. Samuel Dowden, Charles W. Fairbanks, Arthur B. Grover, J. Irving Holcomb, Mrs. Jacquelin S. Holliday, Louis C. Huesmann, Mrs. Henry Kahn, Mrs. Ernest Knefler, Hugh McKennan Landon, Ralph A. Lemcke, Mrs. Louis H. Levey, Carl H. Lieber, Dr. Carleton B. McCulloch, Edward L. McKee, Volney T. Malott, Walter L. Milliken, Meredith Nicholson, Gustave A. Schnull, Delavan Smith, George G. Snowden, Mrs. Frank D. Stalnaker, Mrs. Clarence Stanley, Miss Lucy M. Taggart, Henry M. Talbott, Booth Tarkington, Ernst M. Wiles, Evans Woollen, 15.194
  • interior decoration
  • pattern
  • decorative
  • pierced

This jali is from a group of sandstone and wood panels de Forest supplied to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for a large screen. Used in temples and houses to filter the strong Indian sun, jalis create patterns of light. De Forest greatly admired Fatepuhr Sikri’s red sandstone architecture (see painting opposite), and ordered red sandstone jalis, such as this one, for export from nearby Agra.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68244099/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • mahogany, carved teak with dial faces of gilded and patinated metal, glass
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, The Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund,1992.70
  • interior decoration
  • timekeeping
  • decorative
  • carved
  • clock

This grand clock reflects the interconnectedness of de Forest with Charles and Louis Comfort Tiffany. The case is from de Forest’s studio in Ahmedabad, but the works were supplied by Tiffany & Company, headed by Charles. Charles often purchased goods from de Forest, who was friends with his son Louis. De Forest and Louis had a decorating partnership that dissolved in 1882, but they continued to collaborate on projects. De Forest ultimately sold his interest in the Ahmedabad studio to Louis in 1908.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453579/

  • glazed, lustered and painted stonepaste, rolled and pierced silver (later mount)
  • Gift of Ruth Friedman in memory of Harry G. Friedman
  • pattern
  • tiles
  • star

Lusterware was a dominant type of ceramic production in medieval Iran, possibly having spread from Egypt in the early 12th century. Within Iran, the town of Kashan was the finest producer of lusterware and manufacture was at its peak during the 12th and 13th centuries.Human interaction with lusterware vessels and tiles over time has enhanced variations in color and luminescence.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18478487/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • teakwood
  • Gift of Fernanda Munn Kellogg
  • interior
  • decoration
  • interior decoration
  • arches
  • flowers
  • floral
  • decorative
  • curved
  • leaves
  • vines
  • foliate
  • curving line
  • interlaced
  • flowering vine
  • panel
  • carved
  • wood
  • intricate
  • serpentine
  • rosettes
  • space divider

While silversmiths made jewelry for the rich and the poor, lower castes were confined to silver pieces such as this ankle bracelet, often worn by males and females in layers that completed head-to-toe ornamentation. Bells, intended to frighten away evil spirits, lent a musical effect.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68743587/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • pierced and cut-out sheet brass foil
  • Gift of Sullivan Goss - An American Art Gallery
  • foliate
  • panel
  • pierced
  • metal foil
  • exoticism

De Forest ordered large numbers of decorative foils in a variety of shapes and patterns of piercing, often identified with numbers like the room’s teak panels. De Forest drew on traditional textile and metalwork patterns, such as the scrolling vine seen on one foil, in the room’s woodwork, and on the nearby oil lamp and cap.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18439627/

  • wool, silk
  • hat

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18386845/

  • gilt and filigreed metal, glass pearls and beads
  • Gift of Frances Morris
  • women's fashion accessories
  • personal adornment
  • jewelry
  • India
  • earrings

Delicate filigree work, which reached its artistic peak in the mid-19th century, necessitated the handiwork of wire-drawers and twisters, solderers, polishers, and jewelry assemblers. Since precious metal jewelry was sold by weight in India, filigree work was popular, as it required a minimal amount of metal to create a dramatic effect.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18428017/

  • Manufactured by Gorham Manufacturing Company
  • raised, repoussé, chased silver, silver-plated metal (liner)
  • Gift of Mrs. Leo Wallerstein
  • figures
  • container
  • silver
  • bowl

Although made in Burma or India, this bowl was likely retailed by Gorham, who provided a liner to expand its functional possibilities for dining or display in a Western context. De Forest provided similar silver to Tiffany & Company, which they sold.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18613237/

  • wood, inlaid silver
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor
  • accessories
  • men's fashion accessories
  • fashion
  • cane

De Forest and others collected bidri ware for the Western market, where stylish cane handles were popular. Bidri, a technique exclusive to Bidar, India, involved the inlaying of intricate silver into a blackened zinc alloy. In these cane handles, dark wood replaces the alloy for a similar appearance.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456835/

  • oil on canvas mounted on canvas
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase
  • collectors
  • ceramics
  • rugs
  • clients
  • pianos
  • consumers

De Forest’s first opportunity to work on an interior design project was for his parent’s home. It is also de Forest’s only documented interior prior to his travels in India. The parlor featured a door surround painted to resemble Damascus inlay work, a Satsuma vase on a Middle-Eastern taboret, a paisley shawl on a table in the rear room, and an abundance of oriental rugs. The year before this undertaking, de Forest joined the Society of Decorative Art, founded by interior designer Candace Wheeler to instruct women in handicraft professions. His mother, Julia Weeks de Forest, and his uncle, John A. Weeks, were also involved in the group; De Forest, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Samuel Colman served as instructors.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18197211/

  • brush and oil paint, graphite on cardboard
  • Gift of Louis P. Church
  • architects
  • dome
  • painters
  • landscape
  • travelers
  • temple

Frederic Church’s travels to the Middle East in 1867–69 provided the itinerary for de Forest’s tour of the region in 1875–76, when he attempted to visit all the settings that Church had painted. De Forest sketched an oil landscape with Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (as seen from further up the hill) on March 15, 1876.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18199575/

  • brush and oil, graphite on paperboard
  • Gift of Louis P. Church
  • antiquity
  • Athens
  • documentation
  • sketch
  • Parthenon
  • Greece
  • temples

After spending time together in Rome late in 1868, when Frederic Church introduced the 18-year-old de Forest to antiques shopping, Church and de Forest met again in Athens the following April. While Church prepared a visual record of the Parthenon and its setting, de Forest painted beside him, sketching the same scenes in order to learn painting through observation and comparison.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18389031/

  • tin-glazed earthenware, underglaze decoration
  • Gift of Mrs. Russell C. Veit
  • decoration
  • home
  • flowers
  • floral
  • symmetry
  • domestic interiors
  • arabesques
  • adornment
  • foliate

De Forest collected tiles on his travels in the Middle East, following Frederic Church’s example. This tile represents the type de Forest sent home for interior decoration projects—often for fireplace surrounds. Church used his own tiles to decorate a fireplace surround at Olana that featured a carved wood mantel from de Forest’s Ahmedabad studio.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18563909/

  • silk
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor
  • borders
  • flowers
  • women's fashion accessories
  • women's clothing
  • warmth
  • Imitative
  • paisley
  • carnations

The boteh, or paisley motif, is derived from Persian, Indian, and European sources, and developed its current form during the Kashmir shawl craze of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Its English name refers to Paisley, Scotland, a major production center for imitation Kashmir shawls.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18771139/

  • cut, engraved and stamped silver.
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • interior
  • decoration
  • food preparation
  • landscape
  • pattern
  • dining
  • trees
  • abstraction
  • decorative
  • scene
  • stylized
  • foliate
  • eating
  • sharp
  • handle
  • cutting
  • blades

Meta duPont Kemble de Forest, Lockwood’s wife, was an intrepid woman. She spent their year-long honeymoon in India. Her letters reveal they occasionally slept in modified camps. The blade has tents and palm trees; “Meta” is on the handle. The view suggests studies by her husband and his mentor-relative Frederic Church.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797485/

  • brush and oil on thin paperboard
  • Gifted by a Private Santa Barbara Collector, courtesy of Sullivan Goss - An American Art Gallery
  • collectors
  • architecture
  • India
  • research
  • sand
  • document

On their 1881 tour of northern India, de Forest and his wife stopped at Fatehpur Sikri, where the sandstone architecture particularly impressed de Forest. He wrote, “We spent several days at Fatehpur Sikri…[Birbal’s Palace] was opened for me… and I made... a sketch of the outside which was a wonderful red in the sunlight.”

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456807/

  • zinc and copper alloy; cast, engraved, inlaid with silver (bidri ware)
  • Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1915 (15.95.12)

De Forest was passionate about collecting and documenting traditional Indian crafts. During his travels he acquired this bidri ware pitcher with an accompanying wash basin as an example of this technique, which involves inlaying mixed metals with silver.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456809/

  • filigree silver
  • Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Robert W. and Lockwood de Forest, 1919 (19.135.12)

This box exemplifies the fine level of filigree metalwork still available when de Forest travelled in India.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456813/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • brass, wood frame
  • Henry Taves and Posy Bass

Although not installed in the window frame during de Forest’s time, this shows the kind of creative use of decorative brass foils that de Forest envisioned. Their arrangement is much like that of brass jalis in a wall, with a variety of similar patterns as was common practice in India.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456817/

  • gold and silk
  • Lent by Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago-their number 82329-2

When the de Forests traveled through India in 1892–93, Lockwood gathered jewelry that was subsequently displayed at Tiffany & Co.’s Indian jewelry display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair—most pieces were later donated to Chicago’s newly-founded Field Museum. De Forest appears to have supplied most of the geographical identifications; unidentified examples may have been made in de Forest’s Ahmedabad studio, using jewelry from other parts of India as models.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456819/

  • turned, carved, painted, gilt and lacquered wood
  • Lent by Olana State Historic Site

De Forest probably acquired this chair, an example of Kashmiri style (along with others now at Olana and elsewhere), on a stop in Kashmir on the way to visit John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard, who had an art school in Lahore, then in northern India.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456827/

  • brush and watercolor, pen and ink, graphite on paper
  • Lent by Olana State Historic Site
  • architects
  • architecture
  • exhibition
  • Persian
  • clients
  • Islamic

From 1870 to about 1874, Frederic Church designed, built, and decorated the main house at Olana, his estate on the Hudson. For the architecture, he found inspiration from books on Persian architecture including Pascal Coste’s Monuments Modernes de la Perse (1867), which he purchased as library resource material. For the brick-patterned exterior and the beautifully-colored stenciled decoration inside and out, Church consulted sources including Jules Bourgoin’s Les Arts Arabes (1873), also in his collection and displayed nearby.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456831/

  • brush and watercolor, graphite on paper
  • Lent by Olana State Historic Site
  • decoration
  • Persian
  • Islamic
  • exterior
  • frieze
  • paisley

From 1870 to about 1874, Frederic Church designed, built, and decorated the main house at Olana, his estate on the Hudson. For the architecture, he found inspiration from books on Persian architecture including Pascal Coste’s Monuments Modernes de la Perse (1867), which he purchased as library resource material. For the brick-patterned exterior and the beautifully-colored stenciled decoration inside and out, Church consulted sources including Jules Bourgoin’s Les Arts Arabes (1873), also in his collection and displayed nearby.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456839/

  • brush and oil paint, graphite on paperboard
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund
  • artists
  • architecture
  • study
  • preparatory
  • antiquity
  • hills
  • columns
  • Parthenon
  • ruins
  • marble

After spending time together in Rome late in 1868, when Frederic Church introduced the 18-year-old de Forest to antiques shopping, Church and de Forest met again in Athens the following April. While Church prepared a visual record of the Parthenon and its setting, de Forest painted beside him, sketching the same scenes in order to learn painting through observation and comparison.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35456885/

  • cloth and printed paper
  • Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington, DC
  • architecture
  • arches
  • pattern
  • Persian
  • documentation
  • Islamic

In the early 1870s, while in Hudson, New York, taking painting lessons with Frederic Church, de Forest had access to this and other chromolithographed books of Middle Eastern design and architecture. These publications helped imbue him with an appreciation of Islamic design and the idea of interpreting exotic motifs for decorating American interiors.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460427/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • teak
  • Henry Taves and Posy Bass

This teak panel, similar to the room’s borders, shows de Forest’s working method. In India, de Forest adapted traditional Indian designs to suit Western taste, collaborating with mistri (master) craftsmen, who carved samples. Approved designs were stamped with different numbers. The Ahmedabad studio retained one set; de Forest took numbered sets home to order custom lengths for different projects.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460429/

  • carved teak and carved ivory
  • Henry Taves and Posy Bass

This niche with its bust of Meta, kept by the de Forests, may have been a wedding present from the mistri (master) craftsmen. Not a de Forest design, it was intended as a display of the high quality wood carving and ivory work of which the men were capable.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35460431/

  • repoussé and chased raised silver
  • Henry Taves and Posy Bass

The decoration of this silver tazza shows both British and Indian influences. It descended in the de Forest family and was probably collected by de Forest as a good example of Indian colonial silver work.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35520895/

  • gold, rubies, emeralds, silk
  • Lent by Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. Their number 82155

When the de Forests traveled through India in 1892–93, Lockwood gathered jewelry that was subsequently displayed at Tiffany & Co.’s Indian jewelry display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair—most pieces were later donated to Chicago’s newly-founded Field Museum. De Forest appears to have supplied most of the geographical identifications; unidentified examples may have been made in de Forest’s Ahmedabad studio, using jewelry from other parts of India as models.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51685069/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • cast iron
  • Collection of Joe and Molly Seiler
  • iron

Like other designers during the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts period, de Forest thought about designs for the complete interior—including firebacks. These cast-iron panels could be arranged in a fireplace to add design continuity and radiate heat.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51685073/

  • cloth covered cardboard and printed paper
  • Collection of Joe and Molly Seiler
  • documentation
  • recording
  • vines
  • carved
  • wood
  • photography

De Forest said he published this book of photographs to promote and save traditional Indian architectural wood and stone craft. The publication also would have promoted his Indian-style decorative interiors. The pattern of this jali, carved by de Forest’s Ahmedabad studio, echoes the built-in cabinet decoration across the room and the stenciled wall decoration.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68743581/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • cut and perforated sheet brass
  • Gift of Sullivan Goss-An American Gallery
  • foliate
  • panel
  • pierced
  • metal foil
  • paisley
  • exoticism

De Forest ordered large numbers of decorative foils in a variety of shapes and patterns of piercing, often numbered like the teak panels. At Bryn Mawr he used them to decorate ceiling beams. They may have helped reflect light in the dark teak interiors.

Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68743607/

  • Designed by Lockwood de Forest
  • cloth covered cardboard and printed on coated paper
  • Gift of Taves Family Collection
  • design
  • pattern
  • voids
  • scrolling vines
  • didactic

De Forest believed that the source of all decoration came from the East. He published this book of decorative patterns for teachers leading classes in which students learned about design and pattern through stenciling and tracing. The designs shown here are similar to the stenciled walls and woodcarving in this room.