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The craftsman
Volume XXX, Number 2 (May 1916)

Roberts, Mary Fanton
One man's story,   pp. 188-200 PDF (3.7 MB)


Page 193


ONE MAN'S STORY
color in its relation to wood, of outline in relation to beauty and
comfort. The friends and advisors came occasionally to mourn over
him, but he was hardly conscious of their existence. He only knew
that there was undiscovered comfort and peace and loveliness for
homes which he had yet to make real for the world. He met repeated
failure, he worked his way through outlines that suggested the beauty
of the old art of foreign nations, through color that was new and pleas-
ing, but not wholly satisfactory.
   His work was tentative; he was feeling his way, for no dream that
is of great value to the world comes suddenly to any man. It comes
while he is working wisely and practically and energetically toward
the best of his daily vision. It does not drop like manna out of
heaven, and is not even always recognized the moment it appears.
And so, sometimes the man hesitated, saying: "This is better, much
better, than the past."
   But he was never quite satisfied. "I want something," he said,
"that will belong to all kinds of people, the rich and the poor, the
old
and the young. I want furniture that will harmonize with rare bro-
cades and rich tapestries, porcelains and old prints. I want the same
furniture to appear to the utmost advantage in a small room with
simple chintzes, fresh colored linens and family pictures. I do not
believe that there should be caste in furniture-one kind for the
fortunate, another kind for the less fortunate. I believe that the
really permanently beautiful furniture, rare and rich in outline and
color, will belong to the people of all the world. In other words, I
am seeking pure democracy in industrial art. I am no longer satis-
fied with oak alone. I have greatly enjoyed working in oak, its sturdi-
ness, its strength, its durability. I believe it has helped the people
of this country to do away with futile ornamentation, with puerile
artificiality. I feel that contact with strength and sturdiness is good
for a nation, whether that strength is in character, in architecture or
in furniture.
    "I have never been quite satisfied to work in mahogany. It be-
 longs to the delicate, self-satisfied civilization of the early Colonial
 days, to the people who were finding their first beauty after many
 primitive pioneer hardships. It has no variation in the impression
 it gives. It is the George Washington type of furniture rather than
 the Abraham Lincoln type."
    ND so the man continued his work, living with his woods and
       his colors as a musician lives with his instrument, dreaming
       far into the future. "I want," he said, "furniture
so excellent,
 so truly refined, so desirable that it can set a standard in house fur-
 nishing; that if placed in a room where things are poor and ugly and
                                                               193


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