FIRST EDITION OF CLARENCE CHATHAM COOK'S WHAT WILL WE DO WITH OUR WALLS?, BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED WITH PLATES DEPICTING BLACK-AND-GILT WALLPAPER DESIGNS BY LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY AND SAMUEL COLMAN
COOK, Clarence Chatham. What Shall We Do With Our Walls? New York: Warren, Fuller, 1880. Octavo, original half blue cloth, original pictorial teal boards. $1850.
First edition of this comprehensive Aesthetic Movement treatise on 19th-century wallpaper selection and application, with five striking plates featuring black-and-gilt wallpaper designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Samuel Colman.
Commissioned by American wallpaper manufacturer Warren, Fuller and Co., this work attempts to promote wallpaper, especially in particular styles associated with the Aesthetic Movement. Driven by the notion of "art for art's sake," the Aesthetic Movement was a rebellion against the Victorian era's insistence that art was required to have a moral purpose. Furniture-makers soon began stripping away elaborate Victorian ornamentation and shifted to a simpler yet far more eclectic style, embellishing understated pieces with naturalistic, oriental, and even historical elements. In the midst of the change came Clarence Cook, who came to have a lasting impact in the area of interior design, bringing beauty and taste to the middle classes. Cook was a premier 19th-century tastemaker and this book shows his confident, history-based approach to assessing beauty and functionality. The plates, created by talented interior designers, artists, and furniture makers Louis Comfort Tiffany and Samuel Colman, offer what would have been an entirely new style of wallpaper, intended to create impact and drama in American homes. This book proved so popular that, in 1883, when a second edition was published, the prominent suffragist Mary Livermore adapted the title to one of her own books: What Shall We Do With Our Daughters?
Interior generally bright and fine, front inner hinge expertly reinforced; only slight soiling to binding, light wear to extremities. A near-fine copy. Rare.