American, 1867 - 1956
James A. Miller and Brothers, manufacturer (Chicago)
Weed holder, c. 1895–1900
H. 28 x W. 4 1/4 x D. 4 1/4 in.
The first of Frank Lloyd Wright's copper weed holders was probably designed shortly after 1893, at the start of his independent architectural practice. The vases were made by James A. Miller in response to Wright's displeasure with the bric-a-brac so often brought into the interior of his new homes by clients yet to be properly indoctrinated.
Wright developed an organic approach to architecture1 which openly expressed the interrelationship of exterior and interior, down to every detail, from furniture (often built in) to such elements as this weed holder (and its complement, a large bulbous urn also in the permanent collection). His penchant for a sophisticated simplicity is apparent in this piece as it is throughout his early work.
Wright's affinity for repoussé copper echoed Arts and Crafts taste, but Wright saw little common ground between his own carefully calculated effects and the "plain barn door" simplicities of Gustav Stickley and the Roycrofters. Wright sought to achieve the effect found in Oriental metalwork that he so revered--a hand-applied, weathered patina. It's likely Miller experimented with the patina over the years in close consultation with Wright.
1"In organic architecture...it is quite impossible to consider the buildings as one thing, its furnishing another and its settings and environment still another. The spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these things together at work as one thing...the very chairs and tables, cabinets and even musical instruments, where practicable, are of the building itself and never fixtures upon it." Frank Lloyd Wright, An American Architecture, New York City, 1955.