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20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

Open today
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RISD
MUSEUM

Art & Design

On View

Joseph Edward Straker Gorham Manufacturing Company Potter and Company William Christmas Codman Franz Ziegler

Lady’s Writing Table and Chair

Joseph Edward Straker, English, Lady’s Writing Table and Chair, 1903, Ebony, mahogany, boxwood, redwood, thuya wood, ivory, mother-of-pearl, silver, mirrored glass, and gilded tooled leather; 127 x 127 x 71.1 cm (50 x 50 x 28 inches), Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Thurber 58.095

  • Making It in America, October 11, 2013 -

    This writing table and chair represent a golden age for Gorham. In 1899 the company moved into a new plant, and with the new design direction from William Christmas Codman, Gorham enjoyed a perfect matrix of leadership and artistry. Codman turned over his rather cursory sketches for the silversmiths, chasers, modelers, inlayers, leather carvers, and cabinetmakers to interpret and execute in three dimensions. Remarkable skill and collaboration is particularly evident in the leaves on the desk’s surface, where the ebony and rosewood, which are very challenging woods, were carved away to allow the inlay of silver.

    As the director of design at Gorham from 1973 to 1983, I always felt that we were working in the shadow of this moment, which was characterized by outstanding dedication to craftsmanship, hard work, and the time required to create what had never been made before.

    Burr Sebring, designer and silversmith


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