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Floor Lamp

On view

Floor Lamp

Maker: R. Hollings and Company (active Boston, Massachusetts, 1854-1911)

Date: 1886
Medium: Brass, bronze, silver plate, earthenware, glass, replacement burner
Dimensions:
Overall: 66 x 21 1/4 x 21 1/4in. (167.6 x 54 x 54cm)
Markings: Circular ink stamp on reverse. "PAT. Feb.16, 1886." Around neck at base of oil reserve: "R. HOLLINGS AND CO./BOSTON/USA" PAT./AUG.3rd/1886" "R. HOLLINGS AND CO./BOSTON/USA" impressed mark 3 times around top of burner: "PAT'D APL 23, 1895 (?); on small knob on oil reserve: "PAT APPLIED FOR"
Credit Line: Museum purchase, in part with funds from Jane B. Sayre Bryant and David E. Bryant in memory of the Sayre Family
Object number: 2001.25
Label Text
In 1886, the trade magazine The Decorator and Furnisher described R. Hollings & Company as embracing "every thing desirable in the lamp trade in brass, bronze, silver and pottery." Like most lighting manufacturers of the period, R. Hollings expanded its retail line to include other wares such as fireplace furnishings and imported goods including hammered brass from Antwerp and French mirrors, sconces, and candlesticks.

On this lamp, three figural legs marked by bowed heron heads at the top and resting on splayed bird feet support a wave-patterned central brass pole. Japanese art, which embraces herons and cranes as representations of longevity and happiness, may have inspired the bird imagery on the lamp. The circular earthenware tiles, patented in 1886 by J and J. G. Low Art Tile Works of Chelsea, Massachusetts, complement the brass color of the lamp and enrich its visual complexity.

Text Entries

Richard Hollings (ca. 1823–70), “an Englishman learning his trade in the old country,” founded

Richard Hollings & Company, later R. Hollings & Company, a lamp and fixture manufacturing and retail business.50 When he died in 1870 his family—his wife, two sons, and a daughter—kept the enterprise in operation and increased its worth; they built a new factory in 1885. The retail operations moved several times; while located on Washington Street in Boston in the 1880s, the store was remodeled into a suite of themed parlors in which an array of lighting fixtures was shown. In the Moresque room, “duplex lamps in pottery, porcelain and metals, unequalled for beauty and finish” were on view alongside European, Chinese, and Japanese vases. The Colonial showroom was devoted to the display of hall lanterns, while the Renaissance gallery housed other types of metal goods including brass clocks, fire sets, and umbrella stands.51

 

In1886 the Decorator and Furnisher described R. Hollings & Company stock as embracing “every thing desirable in the lamp trade in brass, bronze, silver and pottery. They also have choice novelties in candlesticks of all sorts . . . and a full and complete assortment of gas chandeliers, hall lanterns and brackets.”52 By 1890, while the firm continued to emphasize its manufacture of gas fixtures, “electrical chandeliers of every description” were added to its advertisements, and by 1908 “electric lighting novelties” took precedence over the company’s promotion of gas fixtures.53 Like most lighting manufacturers of the period, R. Hollings expanded its retail line to include other wares such as fireplace furnishings and imported goods such as “hammered brass from Antwerp, French plate mirrors, sconces and candlesticks.”54

 

On this lamp, three figural legs marked by bowed heron heads at the top and resting on splayed bird feet support a wave-patterned central brass pole.55 Japanese art, which embraces herons and cranes as representations of longevity and happiness, may have inspired the bird imagery on the lamp. The avian theme also includes three open-mouthed birds just below the reservoir and three more incorporated into the spiraled brackets that attach the lower half of the legs to the center rod. Color contrast originally created arresting ornamentation; select parts of the lamp, such as the floral imprinted reservoir and the heron heads and feet, were once silver plate. Additionally, circular glazed earthenware tiles, patented in 1886 by John G. Low (1835–1907) of Chelsea, Massachusetts, enhance the lamp.56 The warm-hued ceramics complement the brass color and enrich the object.

 

R. Hollings promoted the use of shades rather than globes on its taller lamps, many of which were similar in style and proportion to this example.57 All of the fixtures shown in one 1886 catalogue feature umbrella-style shades “of French manufacture . . . varying from the transparent porcelain with its delicate tints, to exquisite Evening Umbrella, with its rare designs in satin, silk, and lace.”58

 

50. Christopher Dresser, Traditional Arts and Crafts of Japan (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover

Publications, 1994), 429–30. This is an unabridged reprint of Japan: Its Architecture, Art and Art Manufacturers (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1882). From about 1872 to

1893, Dresser designed copper and brass items such as kettles, jardinières, candlesticks, and fireplace utensils for the English firm Benham & Froud Ltd.

 

51. Dresser, Traditional Arts and Crafts, 428.

 

52. Ibid., 429.

 

53. Mixed metals were not used in English silver because of strict division of the metals trades and hallmark laws.

 

54. Charles Carpenter, Gorham Silver (San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1997), 92.

 

55. An 1883 Gorham table (or plant stand) in patinated copper with silver mounts sold at T. W. Conroy, Baldwinsville, N.Y., “12th Annual Thanksgiving, Important Estates Auction,” November 28, 2003, lot 163. See Carpenter, Gorham Silver, 95 for a list of articles made by Gorham in copper.

 

56. Autumn 1882 Gorham catalogue as quoted in Carpenter, Gorham Silver, 92.

 

57. Ibid., 92. The article was first published in the The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review (January 1882) and subsequently quoted in an autumn 1882 Gorham Company catalogue.

 

58. “Hints and Notions,” The Decorator and Furnisher 2, 2 (May 1883): 63.