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Work for Richardson

Harvey Ellis worked for Henry Hobson Richardson.

Harvey Ellis's description of the portly Henry Hobson Richardson as a "magnificent big brute" has been repeated many times. Possibly it implies an actual personal encounter or acquaintance with or sighting of Richardson; or possibly it was merely parroted hearsay on the part of Ellis. Whatever the case, this statement, bolstered by several of Ellis's Richardsonian designs, was transformed in the 1960s into the idea that before starting an architectural practice with his brother, Ellis actually worked for Richardson  As an alleged employee of Richardson, Ellis supposedly was responsible for the decorative details of two important but troubled civic projects. However, Ellis's alleged but undocumented initial architectural study with Arthur Gilman, best known for Second Empire designs, would have had little or no relevance to Richardson's practice of the late 1870s. It is unlikely that Richardson, then at the forefront of the American architectural profession, would have hired an inexperienced Ellis when he had the pick of the crop of young men trained in the new academic architectural program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who were eager to work for him. Ellis himself never claimed that he had worked for Richardson, nor is there any mention of Ellis in Richardson's office memorabilia. Ellis's architectural designs, like those of so many other American architects, ultimately reflected Richardson's forms and details. But that was later; at the time of the alleged work in Richardson's office, Ellis viewed himself primarily as a painter, not an architect.

....find details in Reconfiguring Harvey Ellis

....look for forthcoming posts

© Eileen Manning Michels 2009