Interior of Furness's Provident Life & Trust Company Banking House, Philadelphia, PA

If ever a man was a “rogue architect,” to use the amiable phrase of H. S. Goodhart-Rendel, surely it was Frank Furness (1839–1912), who gave us some of the brawniest and most aggressive buildings of the Victorian era. The roguishness is everywhere: in the muscularity of his brooding and belligerent banks; in his strangely agitated tombs; even in objects that are normally sedate, such as fireplaces and furniture. Is anything odder than his dining room table for Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., now in the High Museum in Atlanta? Its legs are shaped like fierce storks whose beaks skewer the helpless frogs that form their bases—Darwinian humor with a streak of cruelty.

 

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