Tile club

DEFINITION

Founded in 1877 and active until 1887, The Tile Club was an exclusive but informal club in New York City of notable painters, illustrators, sculptors, architects and journalists. Meeting proceedings were secret, but many of their activities were deliberately attention getting to enhance members professional reputations. Writer Laura Claridge described the Club as functioning ???like a grown-up boys fraternity." (31) Founding members banded together to promote in America tenets of the British Arts and Crafts Movement led by William Morris Hunt. China painting or painting on tiles was a component that inspired the name. Members were devoted to camaraderie as well as self-serving public activities such as plein-air, impressionist painting excursions to relatively undeveloped regions. One result of their activity was the opening up of Long Beach, especially the South Shore. Periodicals of the day including ???Scribner???s???, ???Harper???s Weekly??? and ???Century Magazine??? had numerous articles on the Club???s activities, some of which they had sponsored, which, of course, enhanced the publications as well as the fame of the members and the places they visited. The Tile Club had no by-laws, officers, initiation fees, or dues, but membership, limited to twelve, did require the decorating of a tile for the fireplace of the Club???s meeting place. The first annual dinner in 1878 was held in the studio of Winslow Homer. Among members were architect Stanford White; painters William Merritt Chase, J Alden Weir, John Twachtman, Napolean Sarony, Frank Hopkinson Smith; and sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. John Singer Sargent requested permission to join as part of his consideration to move to New York City. In 1997, art scholar Ronald Pisano curated an exhibition of the Tile Club at the Stony Brook Museum. He wrote an accompanying book: "The Tile Club and the Aesthetic Movement in America". The Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York is the repository of the largest collection of Tile Club memorabilia including a tile painted by Winslow Homer and William Merritt Chase???s personal copy of Stanford White???s ???Book of the Tile Club???, which he published in 1887. Sources: Eleanor H. Gustafson, ???Museum Accessions???, ???The Magazine Antiques???, December 2005, p. 30; Laura Claridge, "Emily Post", pp. 30-31 (LPD)

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