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Fuermann photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture

Picturing Wright

Original vintage photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright's earliest work by Henry Fuermann & Sons.

A treasure of American architecture was recently discovered in vaults holding the earliest vintage photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright's first photographer, Henry Fuermann & Sons. Among the 78 rare prints were works commissioned by Wright of some of his most important Prairie buildings. Many of these images are among the most famous and highly prized photographs ever seen of Wright's early work.

This collection includes vintage prints of Midway Gardens, the Avery Coonley House and his Oak Park Home and Studio. Perhaps most remarkable are those that record the unmatched beauty of Wright's original Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, taken three years before the devastating fire of 1914. Picturing Wright opens at ArchiTech on Saturday, September 1st as a continuing feature within the extensive photographic collection.

The Henry Fuermann & Sons Collection

The Chicago Architectural Photographing Company, which still exists in Chicago, bought the Henry Fuermann and Sons business in the nineteen sixties for the paltry sum of $500. Their vault held the last remaining vintage prints of Frank Lloyd Wright's earliest Prairie Houses. Like anything Wright touched, their artfulness went beyond other architectural photography of the time. Clarence Fuermann, Henry's son, was the perfect choice for Wright's vision of graphic art. His photographs are balanced between the pictorialism of the late nineteenth century and the coming modernism of the early 20th.

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Taliesen interior, Fuermann photograph
Henry Fuermann & Sons
Taliesen interior
Vintage gelatin-silver print

Avery Coonley House, Frank Lloyd Wright
Henry Fuermann & Sons
House for Avery Coonley, Riverside
Vintage gelatin-silver print, 1908
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in


Wright built his home Taliesin in 1911, the year after he returned from Berlin producing the Wasmuth Portfolio. He poured all of his talent into this house. A blend of rusticated stone work and sophisticated Japanesque decor, Taliesin was the total synthesis of Wright's domestic aesthetic. He again called on Clarence Fuermann to shoot his new Spring Green home.

These pictures were used in the Dutch architectural periodicals Wendingen in the 20s and became famous in themselves. Before the fires of 1914 and 1925, this newly built Taliesin 1 was a complete and cohesive work of art that ranks as one of the greatest of Wright's Prairie houses. After the rebuilding, it became a laboratory of ideas and an important time line of Wright's career, but lost its unified order as a work of architecture.


The Coonley House

The Coonley House (1906-08) was Wright's largest and grandest (built) Prairie house. Like only the Dana House in Springfield before it, the principal client to please was a woman, Queene Ferry Coonley. She pushed Wright for a progressive design in a time that saw colonial Georgian, green shutters and tieback curtains as the appropriate architecture for well bred and monied folk.

This particular photograph is unique in showing the clients in the foreground interacting with what god (Wright) had wrought for them. It became an icon for all subsequent attempts to promote Wright as an architect who understood family values.

Art and Antiques article about Architech and Picturing Wright.
*also available in public document format (.pdf)

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

Wright for sale

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