The Providence Public Library presents a selection of works from its wonderful and eclectic collection of circulating and non-circulating books on art, architecture and design, many of which were owned by Rhode Island architect Edward Irving Nickerson (1845-1908). Born in Pawtucket, Nickerson attended public school and studied architecture in the office of Clifton A. Hall, a well-known Providence architect. Nickerson married Lyra F. Brown, the only daughter of a Providence industrialist, and thus was able to travel the world and collect fine books and furniture. In 1879 he started his own firm, mainly designing large single-family houses for wealthy families, with an occasional municipal or group commission—including a memorial chapel for the Benificent Congregational Church in Providence). His impressive collection of over 700 architectural books (mostly dating pre-1800) came to the library after his death in 1908.
The detail shown here is from Charles Locke Eastlake’s (1836-1906) Hints on household taste in furniture, upholstery, and other details (Boston, 1874). Eastlake was a Plymouth-born British designer and writer, educated in Royal Academy schools and apprenticed under architect Philip Hardwick. His Hints on household taste was first published in 1868 (ours is the second American edition), and was the first and most influential British publication on household art. The work exerted great influence in the U.S. on the Aesthetic movement (a Britain-based fashion which preceded Art Nouveau). Eastlake included illustrations of wallpapers, tiles, artifacts, and furniture.