View full screen - View 1 of Lot 503. Pair of Doors from Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania.
503

Samuel Yellin

Pair of Doors from Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania

Samuel Yellin

Samuel Yellin

Pair of Doors from Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania

Pair of Doors from Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania

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Samuel Yellin

Pair of Doors from Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania


circa 1928

oak, hand-wrought iron, bronze

95⅝ x 24 x 7½ in. (242.6 x 59.7 x 7 cm) each

Overall in very good condition. The doors appear to retain their original finish throughout, which has been beautifully preserved and presents with occasional areas of fading and discolorations consistent with age, installation and gentle use. The oak surfaces throughout present with minor surface scratches, abrasions and small indentations consistent with age and gentle use. The edges and corners of each door present with slightly more concentrated wear and small chips to the wood, consistent with use and not visually distracting. As pictured in the catalogue photography, the lower edge of the proper left door presents with more pronounced losses to the wood covering an area measuring approximately 12 ¾ x ¼ inch, stable. The wrought iron hardware presents with irregularities inherent to production which underscore the hand-wrought quality of the work, as well as oxidation, tarnish and corrosion throughout consistent with age. The iron presents with some scattered surface scratches, minor abrasions and scuffing consistent with age and gentle use. The bronze handles are in very good condition and present with oxidation, light pitting and discolorations throughout consistent with age and gentle use. As evidenced by a few small open aperture holes along the central interior door borders, the doors appear to be lacking a latch that was previously mounted. A well-preserved example from one of Yellin’s architectural commissions.


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.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

Goodhart Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, circa 1928
Collection of Peter Renzetti
Rago Auctions, Lambertville, New Jersey, June 16, 2012, lot 50
Acquired from the above by the present owner
“Ironwork in Goodhart Hall,” The Architectural Record, vol. 65, no. 2, February 1929, p. 173 (for a period photograph)
Jack Andrews, Samuel Yellin Metalworker, Ocean City, MD, 1992, p. 48
Henry Jonas Magaziner, The Golden Age of Ironwork, Ocean Pines, MD, 2000, p. 24
The story of the craft movement is filled with unexpected connections. One arises in the present auction, which sets a late, great example of Wharton Esherick’s spiral staircase alongside this set of double doors, made by Samuel Yellin for Goodhart Hall, an auditorium at Bryn Mawr College. The commonality between these two equally commanding but apparently dissimilar objects is the architect George Howe, who dominated Philadelphia architecture in the 1920s and 1930s. He collaborated with Esherick on a presentation at the 1939-40 World’s Fair, anchored on Esherick’s own first staircase; and it was his earlier firm, Mellor Meigs & Howe, which designed Goodhart Hall. The International Style, which Howe would have a large part in introducing to the east coast (notably in his PSFS Building of 1930-32, a collaboration with William Lescaze), was just on the horizon. The building betrays no sense of that imminent revolution in style and structure, however, instead finding an ideal midpoint between Gothic Revival and Art Deco.

To appoint the building, Mellor Meigs & Howe turned to their frequent collaborator, Yellin, far and away the greatest blacksmith of the early twentieth century. A Ukrainian émigré, he was by the late 1920s at the height of his powers, running a shop so large that it constituted America’s greatest training ground for the craft. This was a unique phenomenon: blacksmithing had been massively disrupted by the arrival of the automobile (no horseshoes needed) and mass-produced metalwork more generally. Yellin bucked the trend, partly by concentrating on architectural appointments, but mainly by virtue of his sheer artistry. The elegance of his design, and the perfection of his shop’s execution, can be seen in these doors’ strapwork hinges and, especially, the elongated handles. The effect is definitely medieval, but also strikingly streamlined: a quintessential example of Yellin’s work, which provided an otherwise missing link between historic craft and future-facing artistry.

GLENN ADAMSON