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George Mann Niedecken

George Mann Niedecken (1871-1945)

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, George Mann Niedecken studied art in Chicago, Berlin and Paris. Together with his close friend, Edward Steichen, the painter and photographer, he formed the Society of Milwaukee Artists. He taught a class in decorative design at the Milwaukee Art Students' League which he based on the study of botanical forms, probably derived from Owen Jones' The Grammar of Ornament (1856), a copy of which he owned.

In 1899, he went to Paris to attend the Ecole-des-Beaux Arts, and in 1900 was studying with Alphonse Mucha. He also visited Brittany in 1901 where he became acquainted with the Pont Aven painters. Upon his return to Milwaukee Niedecken introduced French Art Nouveau to the Midwest in his designs for tapestries, mosaics, art glass and furniture.

Niedecken shared Frank Lloyd Wright's familiarity with current developments in European design as well as his interest in Japanese art. He was able to give Wright exactly what he wanted in executing the furnishings and interior details of many of his important early commissions, including Dana, Coonley and Robie houses. Niedecken's murals were among the most important interior features of their interiors.

In 1902, Niedecken painted the murals for the Sedgewick S. Brinsmaid house in Des Moines, Iowa. Designed by Arthur Heun (1864-1946), the house was heavily influenced by Wright. It featured leaded glass windows by Orlando Giannini, who executed work in glass and mosaic for Wright's D.D. Martin house in Buffalo. Examples of the Giannini glass from the Brinsmaid house are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Viollet-le-Duc Organic Architecture and Design from 1850 to 1950 Kelmscott Enterprises, Inc. 1986

click on image
to enlarge

Design for room elevation
c. 1910
4 x 9 inches

Coonley House entry
from the Wasmuth Portfolio


Dining Room
watercolor, 1910
Link to Drawn from the Masters.

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

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