cf. M. Conforti, ed., Minnesota 1900: Art and Life on the Upper Mississippi 1890-1915, exhibition catalogue, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, 1994, n.p., for an example of a table of this design.
W. Kaplan, "The Art That is Life": The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1987, p. 14 for an example of a table of this design.
John S. Bradstreet & Co., advertisement, The Bellman, October 3, 1908; September 7, 1912; November 28, 1914; and April 15 and April 22, 1916 for an example of a table of this design.
John S. Bradstreet & Co., advertisement, The Western Architect, August 1903 for an example of another table of this design.
Viewed as a tastemaker of the highest caliber, John Scott Bradstreet (1845-1914) was the preeminent designer and interior decorator in the burgeoning turn-of-the-century city of Minneapolis. His renowned Craftshouse, founded in 1904, was based on William Morris's Kelmscott workshop and was one of America's early Arts & Crafts centers. An ingenious combination furniture factory, showrooms and cultural center, the Craftshouse presented an eclectic range of objects in a multitude of styles; antiques and contemporary pieces (purchased on his frequent buying trips to Japan and Europe) as well as reproductions and his own furniture designs.
Of all his various offerings, Bradstreet was most devoted to his own Japanese inspired jin-di-sugi pieces. Included in his most important commissions, such as the William Prindle House and Chester Congdon's residence, "Glensheen," it is for these extraordinary works that Bradstreet has received the most recognition.
Bradstreet was profoundly interested in the art and culture of Japan and traveled to the country nine times over the course of his life. On one of his early journeys he discovered ancient jindai-sugi carvings. Jindai-sugi is a traditional method of carving Japanese cedar which have been exposed to mud or water for many years (often hundreds) and have naturally broken down, soft fibers. Captivated by the technique, Bradstreet developed a method of creating a similar effect in a shorter period of time which he called jin-di-sugi or simply sugi. Bradstreet's process entailed taking a wire brush to scorched cypress to remove the soft grain and then washing and waxing the exposed raised grain of the hard fibers. He would then carve the resulting soft, velvety surface and treat it with paint or stain. Of the various furnishings he made from this technique, Bradstreet chose this table to exemplify the line using it more than any other sugi piece in his weekly ads in the local paper the Bellman.
There are only four known examples of the "lotus" table. Two are in museum collections (the Minneapolis Art Institute and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and a third was sold at Sotheby's, New York, in June 2004. The fourth, which is offered here, is distinguished by the addition of a small bronze turtle and a rich dark finish.