Linen press, ca. 1904
Edna M. Walker (American, 1880–?)
Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony, Woodstock, New York
Oak, tulip poplar, brass; 55 x 41 x 18 3/4 in. (139.7 x 104.1 x 47.6 cm)
Purchase, Friends of the American Wing Fund and Mr. and Mrs. Willcox Jr. Gift, 1991 (1991.311.1)
Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, an Englishman who had studied at Oxford with John Ruskin, and his wife, Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead, founded the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony near Woodstock, New York, in 1902. He financed the venture, allowing craftspeople to freely pursue their artistic vision in cabinetmaking, pottery, textiles, painting, and photography. In the production of furniture, Whitehead handcrafted the objects and female designers, including Zulma Steele and Edna M. Walker, created the surface decoration. Walker studied with Arthur Wesley Dow, a pioneer in arts education in the United States who laid the artistic foundation of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Walker designed the polychrome panels of stylized sassafras leaves for this linen press using principles gleaned from Dow's approach to design.