- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924)
[Sullivan] read a great deal. The books in his library reveal some rather esoteric interests. There were several books on Japan and Japanese art, and he possessed a small but choice collection of Oriental rugs, Chinese and Japanese vases, bronzes, and jade carvings. He had about a dozen books on gems and precious stones, from the designs of which it has been suggested that he derived motives for his ornament, although this is not true. Gray's Botany influenced his ornament more than any other single source. He had a dog-eared copy, showing extensive use in studying the morphology of plants and their curious and marvellous differentiations within species. He referred the book to students frequently. His sketch-book was full of drawings from this source: complex organic developments from single germinal ideas. There were a few books on the history of music, others on musical analysis, harmony, etc., and fourteen volumes of oratorios. Several books on psychology and psychic phenomena reveal a profound interest in this field. There were in addition well-worn copies of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, especially suggestive to the student of his writings.(From: Louis Sullivan Prophet of Modern Architecture by Hugh Morrison (1935)
The lack of commissions reduced him to desperate straits by 1909. It was at that time that he had to give up the office in the Auditorium Tower and to auction off his library and many of his household effects.
From the Chicago Daily Tribune, November 27, 1909:
I found this incredibly sad...
Books by Louis Sullivan on Internet Archive:
The Autobiography of an Idea
Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings
A set of links to information on Louis Sullivan has been added in the left column.