Friday, November 20, 2009
East Meets West on 10th Street
This is one of my favorite architectural treasures in New York City. Strolling past the parade neoclassical and Italianate townhouses on 10th street, a unique vision emerges literally where East meets West. At 7 East 10th street is the former home of celebrated American artist Lockwood de Forest. De Forest initially trained as a painter and was a founding member of the decorating firm "Associated Artists" with Louis Comfort Tiffany. He had a passion for the Orientalist movement and for Indian architecture in particular. On the occasion of his honeymoon in 1879, de Forest travelled extensively throughout India and in Ahmadabad encountered the woodcarving studio of Muggunbhai Hutheesing in which he became an investor. The aim of the studio was to preserve the exquisite indian woodworking tradition that was heavily impacted by colonialism and the industrial revolution. Therefore the quality of the carving and motifs surpassed much of the "exotica" that was being imported to the West at the time. When the home was built in 1887, de Forest naturally chose to embellish the western structure with lavish moldings and architectural details from the carving studio. The result is sheer fantasy and the fact that it has survived is remarkable given the ever changing tastes and modes in architecture.