December 16, 2012


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Lot 134: Elizabeth Eaton Burton

Lot 134: Elizabeth Eaton Burton


Commissioned c. 1902
Hand-tooled buckskin suede, abalone shell, hand-painted fabric
Designer's monogram recto
14.25" x 12" x .5"
Provenance: Mrs. Anita Baldwin McLaughry, Anoakia, Santa Anita, California, 1914; Private Collection (thence by descent); Private Collection, California
Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Price Realized: $4,375
Inventory Id: 4041

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This lot was commissioned in 1909 by noted patron of the arts Mrs. Anita Baldwin McClaughry, the daughter of entrepreneur and racehorse owner Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin. These two works adorned the interior of her palatial residence “Anoakia,” set within 16 acres in the foothills of Santa Anita Canyon, Los Angeles, California. Seminal architect Arthur B. Benton designed the house, with progressive interior schemes devised by some of the leading American artists and designers of the day, including Maynard Dixon, Ernest Batchelder, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Elizabeth Eaton Burton is widely recognized as a leading figure in the development of California’s craft tradition, a movement that continued to flourish throughout the twentieth century. Due to the labor-intensive nature of Burton’s studio work and the relatively short period of time that she was active - from the opening of her studio in 1897 to her departure for Europe in 1920 - very few examples were ever produced. Her distinctive style, which featured tooled leather, seashells, and hand-wrought copper worked into organic and flowing forms, was informed partly by her upbringing in metropolitan Paris, which she left at the age of 17, and partly in response to the unspoiled natural beauty of her home in rural Santa Barbara. The table lamp carries distinct echoes of the leading French fin-de-siècle exponent of the Art Nouveau style, Emile Gallé, with its copper frame, hand-hammered into the form of flowing foliage. The use of abalone for the shades and for the inlay to the recesses of the tooled leather picture frame clearly demonstrates the inspiration that she found within the natural environment where she gathered the seashells during excursions to the beach. An example of Burton’s abalone shell lamp design is currently included in the Gene Autry Museum’s exhibition, “California's Designing Women, 1896-1986.”

Beresford, Hattie. The Way it Was: My Santa Barbara Scrapbook: 1886-1910. Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 2011. Print.