Lot 41: J. R. Davidson
Custom coffee table
15" x 56" x 22"
Together with one original photograph by Julius Shulman of the rear exterior of the Kingsley residence
Provenance: The Kingsley residence, Pacific Palisades, California;
Thence by descent
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Architect and designer J. R. Davidson (1889-1977) was instrumental in transforming the Los Angeles landscape through his mid-century houses that employed expansive yet sensible floor plans. A German émigré who traveled throughout Europe before arriving in Los Angeles, Davidson received little formal education in architecture. The rest of his knowledge was experiential, gained from apprenticeships in Berlin, London, and Paris. After many successful years in Berlin designing lighting and interiors, Davidson and his wife Greta moved to Los Angeles in 1924, just like his friends and future collaborators Richard Neutra and K.E.M. Weber. In addition to designing interiors, he ushered in a modern sensibility through commissions for building facades, as well as hotel and home remodels. As Davidson’s reputation for practical storage solutions and innovative designs grew, he earned commissions to design Los Angeles-area residences. In 1945, John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture asked Davidson to design the first Case Study House; he also designed Case Study Houses #11 (1946) and #15 (1947).
While the plans for Case Study House #1 were being finalized, Davidson designed two houses on adjoining lots in the Pacific Palisades. The Kingsley family purchased land on an old lemon grove – with many of the trees intact – that sloped downward facing the ocean. The "houses without halls" incorporated wide-open rooms encased by thin walls and large sliding glass doors that opened onto raised terraces. Much of Davidson’s custom-designed furniture adorned the interior of the Kingsley houses, including a dining suite, coffee table, and wall light. Davidson realized a distinctly California modern space he described as having masculine exteriors and feminine interiors. Architectural historian Esther McCoy agreed, extending his analysis, "But also feminine was the proximity into which he brought people, the tight warm areas with cool intervals between." The Kingsleys were so enamored with the final realization of the project that they recalled Davidson to their home between 1958 and 1962 in order to make structural changes and updates to the interior.
McCoy, Esther. The Second Generation. Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc, 1984. Print."