One House Two Worlds

The rug in what is wryly referred to as the “curator’s office” is American art deco of about 1935, but the real excitement in this room comes from the enormous wool wall tapestry believed to have been designed by Le Corbusier in the early 1950s and the pair of ribbon chairs designed by Pierre Paulin in 1966 for the Dutch firm Artifort (see Fig. 9).7 Curl up in one of these chairs, still with their original stretch fabric designed by Jack Lenor Larsen (1927–), and you may never want to get up. Which is what Paulin, whose designs made relaxation into an art form, may have intended. Certainly, the chairs provide the perfect place to sit when consulting the library these “non-collectors” have assembled over the years. They were always educating themselves about the things that interested them, through their travels and their reading, by attending lectures and symposiums (she went to Winterthur’s winter institute in 1987), and their hands-on experiences. Whether collecting specimens of Maryland flora or Annapolis chairs, designing and sewing bed or window hangings, or repairing or regilding pieces of furniture, together they created an environment where content and context are perfectly combined.

I am grateful to Joe Kindig III, Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley, Sumpter Priddy III, Cynthia Trope, and Bruce Rippe for their help with this article.

1 See Barbara Snow, “Living with antiques: The Baltimore home of Mr. and Mrs. Sifford Pearre,” and Helen Comstock, “Baltimore furniture in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sifford Pearre,” The Magazine Antiques, vol. 82, no. 6 (December 1962), pp. 628–631 and 632–635. Much of the collection is now in the Baltimore Museum of Art. 

2 The desk-and-bookcase is illustrated and discussed in Sumpter Priddy III, J. Michael Flanigan, and Gregory R. Weidman, “The Genesis of Neoclassical Style in Baltimore Furniture,” American Furniture 2000, pp. 72–74. 

3 See William Voss Elder III and Jayne E. Stokes, American Furniture 1680–1880 From the Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 1987), p. 62. 

4 Southern Furniture, 1640–1820 (The Magazine Antiques, New York, 1952), p. 53, no. 124. 

5 I am grateful to Anita Jones, curator of decorative arts for textiles at the Baltimore Museum of Art, for this information. A photograph of the lounge is in David A. Hanks with Jennifer Toher, Donald Deskey: Decorative Designs andInteriors (E. P. Dutton, New York, 1987), p. 107, fig. 126. 

6 See “Art Moderne Rugs to the Fore,” Good Furniture Magazine, vol. 31 (September 1928), p. 143.  7 The tapestry has not been documented to Le Corbusier, but was accompanied by the history that the original owners had it woven to cartoons he made in 1952–1953.

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by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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