Wharton Esherick

American, 1887 - 1970

Revered as the “Dean of American Craftsmen,” Wharton Harris Esherick played a pivotal role in establishing the American Studio Furniture Movement. A visionary in the truest sense, Esherick was the first craftsman to approach furniture as sculpture—a notion that influenced an entire generation of designer-craftsmen, including Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Sam Maloof, and Wendell Castle. Born in 1887 and trained as a painter and printmaker, Esherick’s fascination with wood began in 1920, when he started carving designs on the frames for his paintings. Soon, he was carving woodcuts and crafting sinuous organic sculptures, furniture, chairs, and architectural interiors, which bridged the gap between art and craft.


In 1926, at a time when there were no organizations of furniture makers, no magazines that promoted their work, and very little public interest in “art” furniture, Esherick established an arts and crafts style studio in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Over the next fifty years, Wharton Esherick furniture created wooden works that ranged from biomorphic forms to sharp edged Expressionist pieces and the undulating furniture that he is best known for today. Esherick primarily worked on commission, creating pieces for devoted patrons, and as a result of these intimate exchanges, his work seldom come to market. Wharton Esherick died in 1970 at the age of 83. 

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