The moment of William Ralph Emerson's Art Club in Boston's art culture
Author(s)Hoeffler, Michelle Leah
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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This thesis will analyze the architect William Ralph Emerson's (1833-1917) Boston Art Club building (1881-82) and its station within Boston and New York's art culture. Even though there has been considerable research on the Gilded Age in general and certain art clubs specifically, this club remains a neglected element in art's social history. During the rising development of art culture, a small group of artists founded the Boston Art Club (1854-1950) as a vehicle for production, education and promotion of the arts. To assert their club's presence within patrons' circles, the members commissioned a flagship clubhouse adjacent to Art Square (now known as Copley Square). Emerson, primarily a residential architect and the first Shingle Style architect, won the competition with a unique amalgamation of Queen Anne and Richardson Romanesque styles, an alliance with the nearby Museum of Fine Arts and the Ruskin and the English Pre-Raphaelites. The resultant clubhouse was a declaration of the club's presence amid America's established art culture. Through this building design the Club asserted its status for the thirty years that the arts prevailed on Boston's Art Square. The Art Club's reign, along with the building's prominence, ended when the Museum deemed their building's architectural style out of date, among other reasons. That faithful decision to abandon Art Square and the revival Ruskinian Gothic style would take with it the reverence for the Art Club's building and, eventually, the club itself. Within forty years and through several other struggles the Art Club closed its doors, ending a chapter that began with the need for art in Boston, thrived within the culture of the Gilded Age and sank from the changing trends in architecture.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2000.Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-225).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology