Tall Clock

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Designed by George Grant Elmslie (of Purcell, Feick and Elmslie)
American, born Scotland, 1871-1952
Manufactured by Niedecken-Walbridge, Milwaukee
American, early 20th century

Tall Clock, 1912

Mahogany with brass inlay
213.3 x 66 x 40 cm (84 x 26 x 15 3/4 in.)
Restricted gift of Mrs. Theodore D. Tieken, 1971.322

This handsome tall-case clock was designed by the firm of George Grant Elmslie and William Gray Purcell for the Henry Babson House in Riverside, Illinois. Although Louis Sullivan designed the house in 1907, a large part of the scheme—including the built-in and freestanding furniture—was actually executed by Elmslie, who was then working for Sullivan. In 1912 Elmslie and his firm made additions to the house, including eight pieces of furniture. This elegant clock, whose works and nine chimes were imported from Germany, dates from this later commission. Its hands were executed by Chicago metalsmith Robert Riddle Jarvie according to Elmslie’s design. In his concern over creating an organic, harmonious relationship between the interior of a house and its exterior, the Scottish-born Elmslie found a staunch ally in designer George Niedecken, president of the Milwaukee-based firm of Niedecken-Walbridge, which made the clock’s mahogany case.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 45.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Princeton, New Jersey, The Art Museum, The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, 1876–1916, Oct. 21–Dec. 17, 1972, cat. 79; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 24–Apr. 22, 1973, Washington, D.C., Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, June 1–Sept. 10, 1973.

Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft, and Industry, 1833–1983, Dec. 5, 1983–Aug. 31, 1984, no cat.; traveled to Washington, D.C., Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Oct. 12, 1984–Apr. 7, 1985, New York, Cooper Hewitt Museum, May 21–Aug. 25, 1985.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago," November 7, 2009-January 31, 2010, cat. 47.

Publication History

E. Van Regay, The Western Architect 22, 1 (July 1915), pp. 1–12 (ill.).

Henzel Gallery Auction Catalogue, Apr. 25, 1971, no. 269.

Rob Cuscaden, “Clock of Three Architects,” Chicago Sun–Times, Jan. 30, 1972.

New Accession,” Apollo 95, 124 (June 1972), p. 504 (ill.).

Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), p. 8 (ill.).

Sir Francis Watson, The History of Furniture (Crescent, 1976), pp. 237–67 (ill.).

Isabelle Anscombe and Charlotte Gere, Arts and Crafts in Britain and America (Rizzoli, 1978), p. 167, no. 230.

Milo M. Naeve, Identifying American Furniture (American Association for State and Local History, 1981), p. 48, no. 96.

Sharon Darling, Chicago Furniture, Art, Craft, and Industry, 1833–1983 (W.W. Norton, 1984), p. 255 (ill.).

John S. Bowman, American Furniture (Exeter Books, 1985), p. 154 (ill.).

Lita Solis–Cohen, “Chicago Shows Off – Tastefully,” Maine Antiques Digest (Dec. 1988), pp. 12B–15B (ill.).

Milo M. Naeve, Identifying American Furniture, 2nd ed., (American Association for State and Local History, 1989), p. 27, no. 269.

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 313-15, no. 164.

Ownership History

Henry B. Babson House, Riverside, Ill., 1912; Henzel Gallery, Chicago, 1971; sold to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1971.