American Arts & Crafts Lighting

The work of the illuminating artist is to place and so shade the lights correctly that they glow with gentle, grateful radiance.

Arts and Crafts and Prairie Style electric lighting fixtures are unique expressions of craft, creativity, and technology. The elegant lines, rich colors, striking forms, and masterful craftsmanship of these fixtures continue to resonate strongly with twenty-first century audiences. The flowering of Arts and Crafts lighting corresponded with an increased demand for electricity in the early twentieth century. Artisans approached the new technology with a modern aesthetic – simple, functional, and tasteful forms – instead of looking to past styles or applying excessive ornament. Handcrafted fixtures in beautiful metals, adorned with shades of glass or mica to temper harsh light, became important artistic enhancements to Prairie Style or Arts and Crafts interiors. Some firms, such as the Craftsman Workshops, Stickley Brothers, and Roycroft, even displayed their fixtures in model rooms, complete with complementary furniture, metalwork, and textiles.

The extensive Two Red Roses Foundation collection features rare and stunning examples of Arts and Crafts and Prairie School lighting, from Gustav Stickley’s designs for Craftsman Workshops to works by Dard Hunter and Roycroft, Greene and Greene, Elizabeth Eaton Burton, and Louis Sullivan. The lamps, chandeliers, and lanterns created by these craftsmen and women are made of beautiful materials like wood, metal, glass, mica, shell, and ceramics. Such rare and stunning works of art from the dawn of the modern age still shine today as successful marriages of technology and good design.

A catalogue is available that highlights eighty-five outstanding examples of the Two Red Roses Collection of electric light fixtures from the early twentieth century. "Beautiful, Useful, Inevitable": Arts and Crafts Lighting from the Two Red Roses Foundation, by scholar David Cathers, examines not only the social and economic aspects of the advent of electric lighting, but also the varied responses from craftsmen to this liberating new lighting source. Published in 2017, the volume is lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred color plates.