Lot 102
  • 102

Harvey Ellis

150,000 - 200,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Harvey Ellis
  • An Important and Rare Settee
  • with firm's decal
  • ebonized oak with pewter, copper and fruitwood inlays and caned seat foundation
  • executed by the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley, Eastwood, New York inlays executed by the workshop of George Henry Jones, New York


Private Family, Colusa, California, circa 1903
Thence by descent
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Leslie Green Bowman, American Arts & Crafts; Virtue in Design, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990, p. 81
A. Patricia Bartinique, Gustav Stickley: His Craft, Parsippany, NJ, 1992,  p. 43
Peter Barnet and Mary Ann Wilkinson, Decorative Arts 1900: Highlights from Private Collections in Detroit, 1993, p. 46
David Cathers, Gustav Stickley, New York, 2003, p. 95 (for a related settee)
Judith A. Barter, Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago, Chicago, 2009, p. 103 (for a related cube chair in the collection of Crab Tree Farm, Lake Bluff, Illinois)


Overall very good condition. The oak surfaces throughout appear to retain their original dark finish and display with a deep brown coloration which is accurately represented in the catalogue illustration. The oak surfaces with some light wear throughout consistent with age and gentle use, showing some occasional light surface scratches, abrasions, edge wear with some small associated edge losses, and some minor traces of surface soiling to the recessed contours. The proper right back vertical rail with a small old loss at approximately 1/3 height from the top measuring approximately 1/2 inch high. The top edge of the upper horizontal rail of the backrest with an old small gouge above the proper right inlaid panel measuring approximately 1 inch. The proper right front leg is lifting above the floor plane approximately 3/16 of an inch higher than the other legs, likely the result of very slight warpage of the frame over time. This could easily be corrected with the application of felt glides. The inlaid panels on the settee back and armrests with some scattered very minor vertical age cracks resulting from the natural expansion and contraction of the wood over time. The settee features six inlaid decorations (two of the same composition on the interior surface of the back rest panels, and four of the same composition on the interior and exterior surfaces of the armrest panels), which are executed with crisp details and overall excellent craftsmanship. When viewed in person, the inlaid decorations are slightly more subdued in their coloration compared to the catalogue illustration. All of the inlays are in very good condition and appear original and undisturbed. The caning on the seat has been replaced and is in very good condition. Lacking seat cushions. A rare and masterfully crafted form featuring an exceptionally rich dark finish and superb clarity to the inlaid details.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

When Harvey Ellis met Gustav Stickley in 1903, he was already an accomplished architect with decades of experience, but the work for which he would eventually become most recognized—his design work for the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley—was soon to come.  He was eccentric, poetic, and regarded by his peers as a genius.  He brought to Stickley’s workshop a new perspective on the Arts & Crafts style, designing furniture pieces that struck a unique balance between delicacy and boldness, intricacy and simplicity.

The influence of the European Arts & Crafts masters is apparent in Ellis’ work, such as the present settee.  Like many of his other works, the settee possesses a Josef Hoffmann-sensibility, a designer whose work was an important source of inspiration for Ellis. The form itself is indebted to a similar model designed by British architect and artist Baillie Scott, and the stylized inlay motif makes reference to the pioneering decorative designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Until Ellis joined Stickley’s workshop, marquetry decorations did not figure prominently into the firm’s body of work.  Ellis, however, called upon Japonesque aesthetics to render charming asymmetric landscapes with inlaid wood, surrounded by biomorphic metal inlays. The confluence of these diverse inspirations interpreted through Ellis’ unique Arts & Crafts vision made his work immediately distinctive.

The present settee descended in the family of the original owner from the period.  Its elegant proportions and exquisite inlaid decorations make this work a superb example of Harvey Ellis’ quintessential style.