Zulma Steele (American, 1881–1979)
Chest, ca. 1904
Poplar with original copper hardware
27 1/4 × 38 3/4 × 14 3/4 in. (69.22 × 98.43 × 37.47 cm)
Layton Art Collection, Inc. L1993.5.1
Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er
The stylized motif on the front panel here shows chestnuts emerging from their hulls amid elongated fronds. Chestnuts were plentiful in the mountainous terrain near Woodstock, New York, where Wisconsin native Zulma Steele resided; she was a member of the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony. The utopian community, founded in 1902, was devoted to the Arts and Crafts movement's ideals of simple country life and traditional handcrafting. Steele applied her considerable skills as a colorist to the design of this chest, which epitomizes the Byrdcliffe style at the time: transparent stains in natural colors, hand-carved panels, and the rectilinear shape.
Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888 – 2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, p. 426-9, color pl. 39, p. 426, color illus. p. 401, color detail p. 429.
Koplos, Janet, and Bruce Metcalf. Makers: A History of American Studio Craft. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. p.78, fig. 2.39.
This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.