Greene & Greene at the Renwick

Two weeks ago, I made it out to the Renwick Gallery to see the Greene & Greene show. After some slight confusion on my part as to where it’s actually located (hint—it’s right behind the Old Executive Office Building), I was quite pleased with the quality of the exhibition, but since I had gotten lost, I didn’t have enough time to read everything before the museum closed for the night.

Not only did they have a great collection of letters and photographs, they also showed some of the original architectural plans. The level of detail the Greenes went to on those plans was quite OCD—plans for all the lighting, furniture, stained glass—very much in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright. These were architects with Vision.

As usual though, my favorite part was the furniture. Of course, pictures can’t do it justice. It’s so difficult to reproduce the glow of wood photographically, especially when you add 100 years of patina. So here are some of the highlights courtesy of the Gamble House website.

Charles Sumner Greene

Breakfast table, 1899

Douglas fir, cedar, oak, mahogany, and birch

Wedding present for his wife, Alice

Guardian Stewardship

Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene

Desk chair, ca. 1905


Adelaide A. Tichenor house, Long Beach, 1904–05

Guardian Stewardship

Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene

Hall chair, 1907

Mahogany and ebony

Made by Peter and John Hall

Dr. William T. Bolton house, Pasadena, 1906­–07

Guardian Stewardship

Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York

Greene & Greene

Bookcase, ca. 1912

Mahogany, ebony, and glass

Made by Peter and John Hall

Cordelia A. Culbertson house, Pasadena, 1911–13

Los Angeles County Museum of Art,

Gift of Linda and James Ries in memory of

Dorothy and Harold Shrier


Photography © 2007 Museum Associates/LACMA

Most of these pieces are from their early to mid-career, but what surprised me most about this later piece was how modern it looks. Take away the leaded glass and it really starts to look more like part of the Modernist movement than the Arts & Crafts movement.

All in all, the best way to see these pieces is in person. So if you’re anywhere near DC, I highly recommend that you check out the exhibit before it closes on June 7th. Here’s the Smithsonian page on the exhibition, with a link to the online exhibition produced by the Gamble House.

2 thoughts on “Greene & Greene at the Renwick

  1. Thanks for the review and the photos, Alison. I hope I get a chance to see the exhibition. I’m particularly struck by that desk chair… what elegant simplicity.

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