the house and studios of a painter.

The House and Studios of a Painter

By Marion Mahony 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
Department of Architecture 

My thought has been to arrange a convenient and elegant home for an artist who, if not great, is at any rate very fashionable. His life will therefore be somewhat that of a public man, necessitating large rooms freely communicating with each other, where he may hold receptions, exhibit his work, etc. He must also have his studios, a large one for his principal canvases, historical paintings which form the chief part of his work; smaller studios for portraits and such work as he may undertake when not fully occupied with larger pictures. As a painter of historical scenes, he will need rooms for models, both men and women, and room for storing all the paraphernalia needed in the composition and carrying out of such pictures.

The house is square with a large central hall open to the roof. This hall is surrounded by a collonade [sic] which supports the gallery of the second story from which access is given to the bed-chambers and private apartments of the family. On one side of this hall is the grand staircase, giving a somewhat magnificent air to the building. From it on the other sides open the grand salon, the dining-room, library and reception room. On either side of the stairway is a passage to an open court on the farther side of which are the studios which are thus separated from the dwelling in order to give opportunity for quiet and seclusion, and which are yet connected with the house by the collonade [sic] surrounding the court.

The house is situated on the corner of two streets, and is surrounded by moderately extensive grounds. My first arrangement was to have the entrance on the same side as the entrance to the court, which made the house unsymmetrical in arrangement. This was well enough for the dwelling, but the difficulty was to find the studios to the house properly and not make them seem a detached and separate thing. To accomplish this end, I finally changed the entrance, placed the vestibule opposite the stairs, the two large rooms, salon and dining-room, on either side, and made the axis of the house, the axis of court and studios also.

On one side of the vestibule is the library, lit by two groups of windows, and separated from the salon by portiers. This salon is lit by a very large group of windows opening onto a balcony, which form the main feature of the west façade of the building. On the other side of the vestibule, the same space is divided into two rooms keeping the symmetry of the façade and yet making a little reception room immediately off the vestibule and a sitting room off the dining-room, where the ladies might go to chat after a grand dinner, leaving the gentleman to their own devices in the dining-room. This dining-room is lit by a group of windows similar to that of the salon opposite. They open on to a good sized porch from which a general view of the gardens is obtained. Here the gentleman can sit and smoke their cigars. To give a pleasing variety to the form of the room, I have placed a fire-place in a somewhat elaborate recess at one end, leaving a like? recess opposite it for the accommodation of an enormous side-board. On the other side of the dining-room is the service-room with elevator from the kitchen below and stairs for the use of servants. Corresponding to the service-room, on the west side of the house is a room for the reception of clients of the painter, from which room they can pass easily either to the house or to the studios.

The court, I have endeavored to make as simple and refined as possible, using piers instead of columns, and placing a simple fountain. At first, I made the passage from house to court under the stairs. But as the landing brought the ceiling rather low, it seemed better to make the exits to either side. By stopping the collonade [sic] at these exits, opportunity was given for a rather pleasing feature in the court, a niche and group of statuary on the main axis of the building, and above this a large window lighting the grand stairway. The court is surrounded on three sides by the house, studios, and rooms for models. It seemed pleasanter and more private to close it in completely, instead of leaving an open collonade [sic], by making a wall with an entrance in the center and high square windows on either side, corresponding to the spacings of the collonade [sic] in the interior. This entrance is for the use of clients, and from it one turns either to the reception room or directly to the studios.

The studios have large doors between them so that thrown together or kept entirely apart. One of the small ones is the private studio where the artist may work upon portraits of the fashionable ladies and gentlemen who come to sit to him. The other may be used for special work, while the large studio between is for master, assistants and perhaps students. With these ideas in view, though the studios may be thrown together, I have made it possible to enter each without passing through either of the others.

In laying out the grounds, I have placed the more elaborate features beside the dwelling. From the porch of the dining-room a walk leads around a large basin, and to a chateau d'eau beyond from a cascade falls to the basin. The rest of the grounds are left for lawns and a more picturesque and natural arrangement.

roses are red.

Happy June.