Important Art by Richard Morris Hunt
One of Hunt's earliest jobs, the building effectively launched his career. He received the commission from James and John Johnston who wanted to create a space dedicated to artists and their work. Hunt biographer Paul R. Baker explains how "the dramatic fenestration, the huge recessed studio windows extending almost from floor to ceiling [....] The four small balconies, with elaborate black iron grillwork, the first-story brickwork panels, with decorative circles set in square frames, the brick piers topped with Greek crosses, and the boldly defined entrance surmounted by a triangular pediment and the word "Studios" chiseled directly above the door all made for an interesting play of surface elements ". The interior of the building was equally impressive as it consisted of twenty-five large studio spaces some with adjoining rooms that were to serve as bedrooms, and a large exhibition room for communal use. It was the first building of its kind in New York City.
Baker explains, "the Studio Building was an immediate success. The first tenants, including some of the best-known painters of the day, moved into the building early in 1858 [...] Many of the painters were members of the National Academy of Design, and for years works by tenants of the Studio Building dominated the exhibitions of the Academy ". Among the artist residences were Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, William M. Hart, Winslow Homer, and Emanuel Leutze. Hunt himself was so taken by the finished building he rented a studio on the third floor shortly after the building opened and remained there until 1870. Sadly, the building was demolished in the 1950s.
Griswold House is an elaborate domestic wooden residence featuring pointed roofs, gables and a decorative, partially exposed, wooden frame. As professor Sarah Bradford Landau explains, Hunt was "inspired by the contemporary revival in Germany and France of half-timber houses, the Swiss chalet, and other vernacular styles of wood architecture ". One can see that here in Hunt's use of the "stick style" which became popular in both America and Europe at the time and is evident in the overall verticality of the house's design features and visible frame elements.
His first commission for a project in Newport, Hunt was hired to build a summer residence for the wealthy merchant John Griswold. This house marked the start of a series of cottages designed by Hunt which energized and elevated the look of Newport and its reputation as a summer resort area. Landau cites the architect Alfred Janson Bloor who stated "in Newport Hunt was one of the first to invest comparatively inexpensive cottages and villas with some of the attributes of an indigenous and coherent art [....] Bloor rightly credits Hunt with having stimulated a new development in American domestic architecture, a development that would culminate in the vernacular expression known as the Colonial Revival ". The Griswold house marked the first of several elaborate residences he would design for clients in Newport, although in later years, he would move away from the cottage "stick style" and favor more ornate, decorative and sculptural structures.
Hunt's elaborate multi-resident building, known as the Stuyvesant Apartments an impressive five stories. Aesthetically pleasing the buildings front façade, according to Landau, was deliberately designed, "as if to suggest the parlor floor of the New York row house, the second-story windows were longer than those of the other floors [...] Partition walls, visible on the roof, as well as the pattern of the fenestration of the floor immediately below the roofline contributed to the impression of a row of houses ".
Groundbreaking in its design, the Stuyvesant was one of the first apartment buildings built in America. In describing the legacy of this project, Landau states, "it was probably the first American building to be called an apartment house, and was certainly the first to be recognized as such; and it did stimulate the building of 'French flats' (the popular term in New York for the apartment house) in the 1870s ". The building was positively received by the public and according to Baker, even "before the Stuyvesant Apartments were finished, several prominent people had subscribed for flats there, many of them young couples with small families who considered the apartments particularly suited to their needs ". In this way, the apartment building owed its origins in no small part to Hunt's architectural vision.
Influences and Connections
- Henry Van Brunt
- Frank Furness
- William R. Ware
- Charles Gambrill
- Henry Louis Sullivan
- Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer
- Charles Follen McKim
- Richard Upjohn
- Beaux Arts Architecture
- Gothic Revival
- Châteauesque style
- French Renaissance
- Stick Style