The Virtues of Simplicity—American Arts and Crafts from the Morse Collection
February 17, 2009 through January 13, 2013
Though rooted in the principles of its English fathers, the Arts and Crafts movement in America assumed its own identity. In Great Britain, Arts and Crafts reformers looked back to the Medieval in their reaction against the industrial age, mass production, and Victorian excesses.
American adherents—though also seeking to elevate craftsmanship, to use native materials respectfully, and to attain overall unity of design—returned to nature, the romantic notion of “the simple life,” and functionality for inspiration. The Morse has particularly fine examples from Chicago, a major center of the movement in America. These include works by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Tobey Furniture Company, and TECO. Charles Hosmer Morse, the Chicago industrialist for whom the Museum is named, renovated and redecorated his Winter Park home, Osceola Lodge, in the Arts and Crafts style around 1905.
This exhibition features more than 50 decorative objects, including Craftsman furnishings purchased for Osceola Lodge from Gustav Stickley, the influential figure who established his companies in New York but who began his career with Tobey in Chicago. Other highlights include a rare Stickley appliquéd curtain on Craftsman canvas, c. 1910, which has never been exhibited, and metalware and lamps from the Roycrofters and a number of other American makers that are not often on view.