Exploring the Department 56 Art & Architecture Series

The Heurtley House

The Arthur Huertly house was constructed in 1902 in Oak Park, Illinois. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust details this iconic home by saying: “Solid and monolithic, the Heurtley house is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest residential designs. Located a short distance from Wright’s own Home and Studio in Oak Park, the house was commissioned by banker Arthur Heurtley. While the rectangular form and monumental massing of the building, evoke Wright’s earlier Winslow house of 1893, the design reflects the remarkable evolution of Wright’s work, and the emergence of his mature Prairie style design vocabulary.

Situated on an expansive lot, the house is anchored to its site by a substantial stone water table. A low-hipped roof with broad, overhanging eaves, shelters the residence. The horizontal form of the building is further emphasized by Wright’s use of two colors of Roman brick, laid in alternating, projecting bands. On the upper level of the house, in place of a decorative frieze, a continuous band of leaded glass casement windows extend across the façade.

heurtly houseEntrance to the house is via a heavy Romanesque arch. The ground floor is given over to a reception hall, a large reception room/playroom, guestrooms and a servant’s hall. Similar in concept to Wright’s Husser and Thomas houses, the principal rooms are elevated to the second story. In contrast to the darker lower level, the upstairs area is defined by airy, open and contiguous light-filled spaces. At the heart of the home, a substantial arched fireplace occupies a central position in the living room. In form and material, the fireplace echoes the prominent arch on the exterior of the building. Leaded glass windows that line the west side of the house, flood the main living spaces with light. An open air elevated porch, accessed via French doors in the living room, blurs the division between interior and exterior space.” For more information visit http://flwright.org/researchexplore/wrightbuildings/arthurheurtleyhouse

“Heurtley House” by Department 56

American Gothic

Sold to the Art institute of Chicago by the artist himself, Grant Wood, in November of 1930 the American Gothic painting transforms into a beautiful Village piece.

american gothicThe Art Institute of Chicago writes “This familiar image was exhibited publicly for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago, winning a three-hundred-dollar prize and instant fame for Grant Wood. The impetus for the painting came while Wood was visiting the small town of Eldon in his native Iowa. There he spotted a little wood farmhouse, with a single oversized window, made in a style called Carpenter Gothic. “I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house,” he said. He used his sister and his dentist as models for a farmer and his daughter, dressing them as if they were “tintypes from my old family album.” The highly detailed, polished style and the rigid frontality of the two figures were inspired by Flemish Renaissance art, which Wood studied during his travels to Europe between 1920 and 1926. After returning to settle in Iowa, he became increasingly appreciative of Midwestern traditions and culture, which he celebrated in works such as this. American Gothic, often understood as a satirical comment on the Midwestern character, quickly became one of America’s most famous paintings and is now firmly entrenched in the nation’s popular culture. Yet Wood intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values, an image of reassurance at a time of great dislocation and disillusionment. The man and woman, in their solid and well-crafted world, with all their strengths and weaknesses, represent survivors.” For more information visit http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/6565

“American Gothic, Set of 2” by Department 56




Also in the Art & Architecture Series:

“The Chrysler Building” by Department 56

The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Center is located on 42nd Street between Lexington and Third Avenue on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. Built in 1930, the building underwent purchase and renovation in 1998 with completion by mid-2000 creating a total rental area of 2,062,772 square feet. Amazing 360-degree views of Manhattan and the outlying area overlooking the East River, Central Park, Times Square, and Grand Central Terminal.

Still want to learn more? Consider checking out the following links:


“Neuschwanstein Castle” by Department 56

Neuschwanstein Castle

“Seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. The shy king had built the castle in order to withdraw from public life – now vast numbers of people came to view his private refuge. Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year 1.4 million people visit “the castle of the fairy-tale king”. In the summer around 6,000 visitors a day stream through rooms that were intended for a single inhabitant.”

Still want to learn more? Consider checking out the following links:

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