HERMAN CARL MUELLER

ARTISTRY IN TILE & MOSAIC

THE TILES OF ARROW PARK MANSION

A SENSE OF BALANCE AND NATURE

When visiting the Arrow Park Mansion, it is easy to become awestruck by the unheralded simplicity of its grand spaces. Yet, visitors and guests immediately experience a sense of warmth and welcome at the very same time. There is a subtle sense of  déjà vu and an easy-going quirkiness everywhere you look. That this effect has lasted for over a century is a tribute to Julia and Schuyler Schieffelin and their choices on the design and construction of the mansion. It is a testament to an era of artistic architecture. The Schieffelin's vision was to create a "country lodge" for the family, friends and associates - away from the hurried, loud and hectic surroundings of New York City and in tune with the natural outdoor surroundings of the estate.

In large part, “the magic of welcome” in the mansion happens because of the tile and mosaic work throughout the home. These were the work of the Mueller Mosaic Company (Trenton, New Jersey), and in particular the artistry of Herman Carl Mueller.

"Mueller, a German who immigrated to America in 1878, was a skilled sculptor and experienced tile maker by the time he founded the Mueller Mosaic Company. He worked at a number of art potteries after arriving in the United States, including the American Encaustic Tiling Company and the Mosaic Tile Company, both located in Zanesville, Ohio, as well as the National Tile Company and the Robertson Art Tile Company in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Throughout the years, Mueller worked as a salesman and business manager, but today he is remembered for his design skills and artistic sensibilities. He was a talented modeler, meaning he sculpted original designs that were then used to make molds for production tiles, and a prolific designer of mosaics.

The Mueller Mosaic Company produced artistic tiles as well as industrial, non-decorative tiles. Mueller was a strong supporter of the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880-1920), which promoted a return to handcrafted goods in the wake of the industrial revolution and the belief that beautifully made items should be a part of everyday lives. The tiles made at the Mueller Mosaic Company reflected these ideals. As ceramic tiles became an integral decorative component of the Arts and Crafts Movement, potteries expanded their production to meet consumer demands. The Mueller Mosaic Company increased production throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s. By the mid-1930s, however, sales declined due to a number of factors, including the Great Depression, Mueller’s declining health, and changes in buyers’ taste. Many tile potteries around the country suffered similar setbacks, and were forced to downsize or close by the end of the decade. The Mueller Mosaic Company survived into the 1940s, but Mueller died in 1941, and his company closed the next year. [Steffi Chappell, Curatorial Assistant, Everson Museum of Art]"

Many of the rooms include groups of leaves connected by conventional stems and borders. Oak leaves were used for the main entrance vestibule and maple leaves for the main stairway above, while simple straight line borders decorate the walls of the stairway intervening and connecting the more elaborate motifs.

Archways between the rooms are accented with brackets from Mueller Mosaic. Some are original to the mansion. Others are directly from the factories stock catalog.

While visiting the mansion, we invite you to explore the artistic and entertaining tiles throughout. Some elements are subtle, almost hidden (like the lone tree tile in the vestibule floor). Others tiles and motifs are far more easy to find and obvious. This is especially true of many fireplace surrounds of the mansion.

The fireplace tiles are truly a plethora of motifs and design. From sailboats to bunnies, camels to squirrels, these tiles are said to have been chosen by the Schieffelins for the entertainment of their children and guests.

It is our hope to catalog the Mueller Tiles of Arrow Park in the future.

The work of Carl Mueller can be found throughout America including many State Houses, churches, mosques, the entrance hall to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, many NYC subways and numerous museums, public spaces and private residences. The influence of this talented immigrant artist lives on through his work – which brings enchantment and wonder to daily life.

Circa. 1920. Features hand-drawn designs for polychrome bas relief and inlaid faince. Mueller Mosaic Company.

PDF. Courtesy of Tulane University Archive

Features installations of Muller Mosaic Tiles in a wide variety of locations,Circa. 1910-30.

PDF. Courtesy of Franklin Institute, Philadelphia