The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age

The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age (Dover Publications)

Original Dover (1987) publication. 203 black-and-white photographs from Artistic Houses (attributed to George William Sheldon), published by D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1883–1884. New preface. Introduction. Alphabetical list of plates. Extensive captions. 192pp. 9 x 12 inches. Paperbound. ISBN 0-486-25250-7.


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From the Book Cover

The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age contains all 203 photographs from Artistic Houses, with new text by Arnold Lewis, James Turner, and Steven McQuillin.

Originally published in 1883-84, Artistic Houses was subtitled Being a Series of Interior Views of a number of the Most Beautiful and Celebrated Homes in the United States with A Description of the Art Treasures contained therein. Sold only by subscription in a limited edition, it comprised 203 photographs of the interiors of homes of the well-to-do, with a flattering text that called attention to the woodwork, wall coverings, color schemes and other aspects of interior decor. Today, historians consider Artistic Houses the best source of information and illustrations for private houses in Eastern cities in the early 1880s. Although its authorship is not certain, the text is generally attributed to George William Sheldon, noted author and art critic.

This volume retains all the photographs presented in the original two-volume work; the text, however, has been replaced with one specially written for this edition. In addition to an introductory essay on the social and esthetic trends of the period, extensive captions for each plate include most of the valuable information in Sheldon's descriptions plus biographical comments on the house owners and their families, comments on paintings and sculptures displayed, present condition of the houses, and locations.

Over 200 photographs of 97 magnificent buildings (all but two of them homes; most located in the Northeast) include rare photographs of the New York homes of Hamilton Fish and U. S. Grant; multiple views of the Henry Villard house, now part of the Helmsley Palace Hotel in Manhattan; rooms from William H. Vanderbilt's Fifth Avenue residence; interiors from J. Pierpont Morgan's Madison Avenue home, the Marshall Field house in Chicago and many more. Here are richly paneled rooms that rivaled the baronial halls of European castles; miniature art galleries, magnificent tapestries, plush draperies and brilliant chandeliers that accented stately rooms.

With its thorough scholarship and wealth of detail, this impressive survey will delight anyone interested in interior design, architecture, the rich and powerful families of the Gilded Age, and the social history and architectural development of the nation.

Cover design by Paul E. Kennedy.

(The above commentary is provided by Dover Publications, Inc.)


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