Flickr Widget

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

John Risley

John H. Risley
Into each life a little whimsy must fall. At least that seemed to be the attitude of John Risley (1919-2002), a sculptor, artist and furniture designer born in Waterville, Maine. He attended Loomis Institute in Windsor, Connecticut, as well as Malvern College in England before graduating from Amherst College in 1942. He served in the
U. S. Army Information and Education section from 1942-1946 and was stationed in Tokyo. He later trained as a sculptor, receiving his BFA in 1949 from the Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA in 1950 from the Cranbrook Academy. He taught at the Cranbrook Academy for a year after completing his studies. He was an art professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, from 1954-1987.

His sense of humor brought him international attention for his satirical line drawings of birds, animals and pompous, armor-clad Medieval warriors. His satires and cartoons were exhibited in Italy, Holland, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, as well as in the United States. Risley then turned his talent for line drawing into furniture design, creating pieces in the shape of people and animals which are still quite collectible today.

In the 1950s, Risley led a U. S. government program for two years in Manila, where he and his wife Mary were design consultants. In 1960 they were in a similar program in Taiwan with Russel Wright Associates and in a Peace Corps project in Puerto Rico in 1964.

His sculpture in exhibited at Wesleyan University, as well as at IBM in New York and the Cleveland Garden Center. His design of the Risley woven rattan Duyan chair and Banca boat-shaped wooden bowls were notable successes that have continued into this century.

From and

Horse tea cart
Chairs, settee and table
Lounge chair
Peacock sculpture
Someone Is Watching
Abstract sculpture
Totemic sculpture
Rattan and steel Duyan chair


  1. We actually had the tea cart horse for sale at the store last year. It didn't last too long!

    1. I bet it flew out the door. My SIL is about to start cleaning up one of the "female chairs" to sell in our store.