Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

published by Phaidon. ISBN 0-714839507. £45

THE best of Arts and Crafts can be top sellers and the movement’s architecture is a big subject; in this book’s introduction, the Greene brothers, architects Henry and Charles, are described as giving high-art form to the American Arts and Crafts movement in the early years of the 20th century, with a handful of “highly refined and exquisitely crafted dwellings...”. Within this “fraternal symbiosis”, Henry ran the office while Charles designed or rather “processed daily stimuli.., rocks in a stream bed or pictures in books of faraway temples and cliff-side castles all contributed to the firm’s unique aesthetic”. Although the brothers never went to Asia their Asian-influenced Craftsman ideas brought simplicity in architectural design to the American Midwest.

Written by the director of the Gamble House in Pasadena, the brothers’ most famous masterworks are probably the Gamble house (1907-1909), the Charles Pratt House (1908-11) and the William R. Thorsen house (1908-10), all described here. Skipping the Yankee Forebears, Midwest Boys chapter, the five main chapters are A California House, Stones of the Arroyo, The Tree of Life, The Elusive Client and Seaside Bohemia, this last being the D.L. James house on the cliffs above the sea at Point Lobos in Carmel, described rather remarkably as having the look of “an ancient well-settled manse reminiscent of the Tintagel Old Post Office”.

A very thorough monograph on the architects’ career with project drawings and photographs, the two long lived brothers never spoke a harsh word to each other, with Charles described as a “man of immense spirituality... only one-third with us in the real world.”