Artists & Designers

Herter Brothers (1864-1906)

German-born brothers Gustave and Christian Herter founded a New York cabinetmaking and decorating firm in the late 19th century that catered to the luxurious standards of living of wealthy American industrialists. They specialized in overseeing every aspect of interior design, from furniture and woodwork, to wall and ceiling decoration, to floor treatments and draperies. Between 1879 and 1882, Herter Brothers designed and decorated William Henry Vanderbilt's new Fifth Avenue mansion, located in the heart of New York City. The brothers used ostentatious materials such as ebonized wood, accentuated by accents of ivory and gilt inlay to create interior environments to dazzle and impress. In 1870, Christian bought out Gustave, who then returned to his native Germany. In 1881, Christian retired from the business and moved to Paris to paint. He subsequently returned to New York City and died there. The company carried on into the 20th century.

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Related Multimedia

Friends of the Decorative Arts, Dallas Antiques and Fine Arts, Wendy and Emery Reves Lecture Series; celebrating DMA Collection acquisition Herter Brothers, Vanderbilt Console, 1996.213.A-E; J. Thomas Savage, Jr. is Curator and Director of the Museum Division of Historic Charleston Foundation

Web Resources

  • Smarthistory
    Watch a video of scholars discussing the Herter Brothers and their designs.

  • New York Times
    Read about the MET's past exhibition of Herter Brothers furniture and design.

  • InCollect.com
    Read "Artistic Furniture Of The Gilded Age: Herter Brothers And The William H. Vanderbilt House."