The Bryant Park Studios building was one of the first buildings in the city constructed specifically to house artists' studios. Commissioned by painter Abraham Archibald Anderson and designed by architect Charles A. Rich, it was built in 1900-1901 and featured 24 double-height, north facing windows. The site chosen for the building was the SE corner of 40th Street and Sixth Avenue. With Bryant Park across the street to the north, the building's views were likely to stay unblocked by future additions to the city's skyline, providing the studios with much-coveted natural light.
Anderson kept the lavishly decorated penthouse and an apartment in the building for his studio and living space. His personal touches included a suit of armor, imported Spanish tapestries, a bathroom tiled in whole abalone shells, and an ornately carved Venetian doorway.
|Anderson's penthouse studio with many of its embellishments|
|Edward Steichen, self portrait, c. 1917 or before. Image via|
|Painter Thomas Webb in his penthouse studio with the Venetian doorway in the background. Image: McCormick family|
|One of Webb's Saturday Evening Post covers. Image via|
Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Webb's daughter, who also lived in the building for a time during the 1930s. She has great stories about New York City, the park during that time period -- it was empty and not very safe -- and some of the artist who worked in the building at the same time.
Fernand Léger was a "bear of a man" with a deep gravely voice and a preference for only speaking French.
|Fernand Léger's Three Musicians, 1930. Image via|
|Elegant Man in Mirror, Leon Gordon. Image via|
|Jo Davidson (in his Paris studio) working on the cast of the Gertrude Stein statue, as his subject looks on, c. 1922. Photo by Man Ray, image source: Getty Museum|
-Gray, Christopher. NYT, October 6, 1991
-Landmarks Preservation Commission Report, Bryant park Studios Building, December 13, 1988