Christine Jetten at Seaview Hospital
On Monday, July 10, Christine Jetten (left), a ceramicist and expert on terra-cotta restoration, visited Seaview Hospital in the New York Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic District to view the extraordinary tilework produced by the Delft Company of Holland. Linda Jones of Preserve & Protect accompanied Christine, Susan Tunick (right) of Friends of Terra Cotta, and Dorothy Miner (center) of the Preservation Program at Columbia University. In the course of our day, we viewed some infrequently visited parts of the sadly deteriorating facility.
The figures were designed by the architect (Raymond F. Almirall). The ceramic work was produced in Delft, Holland by the Joost Thooft & Labouchere Company. At the factory, they were laid out in large wooded trays on the floor. These trays could be raised to a vertical position so that the artisans could view them as they would eventually be seen. Christine characterized the cloisonne technique as a new creative development, one that allowed for texture, relief, and fine lines. The tiles were fired in a huge coal furnace, producing many beautiful variations.
Christine said she had not realized before seeing the actual works what a large commission this had been for Delft. She also wondered why a Dutch company had been chosen over the many American terra-cotta producers. Perhaps the architect had seen examples of Delft's workmanship at the 1900 World's Fair..
As New Yorkers, we continue to be amazed at the respect and loving care lavished on this city hospital. The architecture and the brilliant terra cotta were surely meant to cheer and soothe the patients who were suffering from such a dreadful disease.
Christine will return to the factory with many photos of the terra-cotta images created there so long ago that they had been forgotten. She expressed her full support for the efforts of a coalition of New York preservation and environmental groups dedicated to rescuing the beautiful buildings and the irreplaceable terra-cotta artworks at Seaview Hospital.
Contact: Linda Jones, Preserve & Protect
|last revised July 20, 2000
by Preserve & Protect