Celebrating New York City Image 8

In 1908, an entire building was built, just so a group of artists could have uninterrupted Northern light.  In 1903, a whiny artist named V.V. Sewell complained that no one understands how hard it is to find a decent studio in New York. Along with a group of artists who called themselves the Gainsborough Corporation, they banded together to build an epic studio and apartment building for themselves on Central Park South.

The lower levels are decked with intricate Victorian stone carvings. A frieze by Isidore Konti, representing a procession of people bringing gifts to the altar of the arts is on either side of a bust of painter Thomas Gainsborough above a palette in the middle of the building in a small niche. The top floors show ornate Edwardian tiles in bright colors, made in 18th Century German pottery from an artisan in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The interior boasts 18 foot ceilings--a rarity at the time, achieved by filing the building as a hotel rather than an apartment building. The north facing studios were filled with light, rich mahogany and oak woodwork, ornate balconies and fire places, built in cabinets and leaded glass doors. 

The luxury building hosted well-to do men and women artists over the greater part of the century, who shared kitchen areas, a reception area, laundry and private restaurant.

Once again, the sunlight and shadows played a big part in my wanting to create this pen-and-ink drawing of "Gainsborough Studios". The figures in the frieze, the Greek key decoration and all the other details with their cast shadows, including a portion of the building next door with air conditioning units poking out just made this a great composition for me. I also loved the reflection in the tall "north light" windows of the trees in Central Park giving the drawing a sense of location.

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