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 Henry Chapman Mercer  (1856 - 1930)

About: Henry Chapman Mercer
 

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: Sculptor, tile design, craftsperson, writer, archaeologist

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Biography from James A. Michener Art Museum:
Henry Chapman Mercer] is an extraordinary figure, a figure straight from the Renaissance.
-David Randall-MacIver

A gentleman scholar, Henry Chapman Mercer devoted his boundless energy to a broad range of creative endeavors. He was an author, artist, architect, archaeologist, antiquarian, and leader of the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated the handcrafting of decorative objects.

Mercer's dedication to conserving the past motivated many of his diverse pursuits. As a young man, he became an archaeologist, excavating Indian sites, writing scholarly tracts, and curating at the University of Pennsylvania's new Museum of Science and Art. Mercer's impulse toward preservation led him to protect old buildings in Bucks County and to design concrete molding for fire-proof construction.

He collected hand-made artifacts and tools, which were rapidly disappearing in the industrial age. His collection, along with the building he constructed to contain it, have since become the Mercer Museum.

A leader in the Arts and Crafts movement, Mercer built the Moravian Tile and Pottery Works to revive traditional methods of producing decorative tiles. He designed all the tiles his firm produced during his lifetime.


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