Unseen Works: Stettheimer Dollhouse
Fifteen miniature works of art, some by 20th-century masters such as George Bellows (1882–1925) and Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935), are on public view—many for the first time—near a dollhouse created by Carrie Stettheimer (1869–1944) in the early part of the 20th century. The Stettheimer Dollhouse already features 15 similarly-sized works by important artists including Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and others; the exhibition of the 15 additional drawings and paintings—which have been maintained in the Museum’s collection since Ettie Stettheimer donated this celebrated artifact and its contents to the Museum in 1945—marks the publication of an illustrated book, The Stettheimer Dollhouse (Pomegranate, 2009), which documents the tiny mansion and its furnishings, including the art.
Carrie Stettheimer , who developed the Dollhouse over the course of 19 years (from 1916 to the death of her mother in 1935), was also the sister of Florine (1871–1944), an artist whose work is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the three sisters and their mother hosted an important literary and artistic salon in New York City in the early part of the last century; the dollhouse is considered by some to be a work of art and others to be a stellar example of an historic toy with a strong connection to New York City.
Ettie Stettheimer (1875–1955), a scholar and writer, oversaw the installation of the dollhouse in 1945; she also personally hung the 15 tiny works of art in the ballroom gallery, leaving 15 others that will now be exhibited. She wrote in a 1947 Museum catalogue: “I should like to add for the record that among the artists who presented works to Carrie, her more personal friends were Albert Sterner, Marcel Duchamp, Carl Sprinchorn, the Gleizes, the Archipenkos, and Isabelle Lachaise, wife of Gaston, who surprised Carrie with the lovely alabaster Venus.” The alabaster Venus measures 6-1/8” by 3-3/4” by 1-1/2.” Among the postage-stamp sized drawings and paintings that have been on view in the ballroom gallery is Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, a near duplicate in miniature of the groundbreaking original that caused a sensation at the Armory Show of 1913. Among the new works of art now going on view in this special exhibition are two drawings by Gaston Lachaise; a lithograph by George Bellows; and three works by Gela Forster (1893–1957), the wife of Alexander Archipenko (1887–1964), whose work also hangs in the dollhouse ballroom.
Image Credits: Clockwise from top left:
Gaston Lachaise (b. Paris, 1882–1935)
Title unknown [Female nude, seated with hands behind back], c. 1925
Graphite on paper
Museum of the City of New York, 45.125.46
Carl Sprinchorn (b. Broby, Sweden, 1887–1971)
Title unknown [Dancers], c. 1925
Watercolor, gouache, oil, and graphite on paper
Museum of the City of New York, 45.125.30
George Bellows (b. Columbus, Ohio, 1882–1925)
Hail to Peace, Christmas 1918, 1919
Lithograph on paper
Courtesy of Bellows Family Trust; Museum of the City of New York, 45.125.50
Title unknown [View of Grand Canal, Campanile and Doge’s Palace, Venice], c. 1925
Oil on textured linen cloth
Museum of the City of New York, 45.125.58