5

I wonder what "after" means in this context. Does it mean that the chair is a replica or an original?

A mid century Wassily / B3 chair 1925-1927, after Marcel Breuer (New York, 1902-1981).

  • This is not really an answer, as I don't know, but I think they are referring to an "epoch" of which Marcel Breuer was prominent and influential. So when it says "after" they are saying that the chair was made after his time. – A. Kvåle Jun 29 '18 at 16:25
  • 2
    @A. Kvåle: If the chair was actually made by Marcel Breuer, that highlighted preposition would normally be used. I think here, after simply means after / following / consistent with the style of - which could refer to "imitations / copies / knock-offs" made while Breuer himself was still producing "originals". – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 16:34
  • @FumbleFingers Aha, that makes sense. I didn't actually know one could use "after" in that way, or at least it was deep down in my memory. +1 – A. Kvåle Jun 29 '18 at 16:36
  • I've included a link to the relevant OED definition in a comment under @tchrist's answer, but I'm afraid it's behind a paywall for many. Apart from the fact that by specifically isn't used, I'd point out that one reasonable paraphrase of after here would be replicating [the style of] - so you can be quite certain it won't be an "original" (work by Breuer). – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 16:51
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers, absolutely, it just means: in the style of, and is used all the time in design/art. – Lambie Jun 29 '18 at 17:44
7

This means that the “Wassily” chair is one in the design of one originally made by someone named “Marcel Breuer” of New York. Think of it as saying that it was named for his style of making chairs—or if you would, that it was named after his style. Or even that it was named because of him, for it was made in his style.

Wassily Chair image from Wikipedia
Image credit: Wikipedia

Your citation is an example of OED sense 10 for the preposition after (paywalled). There are three subsenses:

  • a. In accordance with, according to (an example, manner, pattern, custom, idea, etc.).
  • b. In the manner of, in the same way as; in emulation of; like. Also with verbs of naming or designating: in imitation or memory of.
  • c. In imitation of, in the style of (an artist or work). Also: in resemblance of, representing (a person or thing).

Of those, the operative one that best applies here is subsense c, being in the style of certain artist’s work.

Here are a tiny subset of citations for those three senses, arranged chronologically:

  • 1850  A. Jameson Sacred & Legendary Art 1
        A portfolio of prints after the old masters.
  • 1908  U. Sinclair Metropolis xvi. 279
        Here was a woman who costumed herself after figures in famous paintings.
  • 1912  Times 3 June 6/1
        The velvet brocade material..was woven after an English design.
  • 1918  N. Bartley Bargain True xv. 238
        He took her gravely to task for..fancying the world to be regulated after her own notions.
  • 1924  A. F. Major tr. J. Brøndsted Early Eng. Ornament iii. 293
        He christens them [sc. rune-stones] after the reddish sandstone,..the ‘Ringerike Group’.
  • 1990  Antique Collector Oct. 64 (caption)
         A painted enamel plaque after Philippe Mercier.
  • 1995  C. Hamnett in T. Butler & M. Savage Social Change & Middle Classes xv. 262
        Jager argues, after Baudrillard, that socially produced objects can express the same logic as conspicuous leisure.
  • 2002  J. Grieve tr. Proust In Shadow of Young Girls in Flower ii. 386
        At the very bottom of this Harmony in Grey and Pink after Whistler, a tiny moth [etc.].
  • 2004  R. Dew & P. Pape No Backup i. 6
        Woven moccasins called opanci, which had a curled toe after the Turkish custom.

In its eponymous article on the Wassily Chair, Wikipedia says that:

The Wassily Chair, also known as the Model B3 chair, was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-1926 while he was the head of the cabinet-making workshop at the Bauhaus, in Dessau, Germany.

Despite popular belief, the chair was not designed for the non-objective painter Wassily Kandinsky, who was on the Bauhaus faculty at the same time. Kandinsky had admired the completed design, and Breuer fabricated a duplicate for Kandinsky's personal quarters. The chair became known as "Wassily" decades later, when it was re-released by Italian manufacturer Gavina, who had learned of the anecdotal Kandinsky connection in the course of its research on the chair's origins.

  • 1
    I think you're mistaken! The cited usage is nothing to do with "source of name" (which clearly was Kandinsky not Breuer, whatever the precise circumstances). The meaning of after here is the full OED's definition IV 10c In imitation of, in the style of (an artist or work). Also: in resemblance of, representing (a person or thing). – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 16:44
  • 1
    ...You might find this interesting (I did!). I "sorta" knew without being consciously aware of it that French d'après covers much the same ground as our after here. And as that links points out / implies, both can sometimes be used to mean adapted from (some "original" work in a different medium or language, such as a movie after a play by Ibsen). – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 17:03
  • 1
    (Except it's a slightly "highbrow" usage, so a more credible example might be A stage production after a poem by William Blake.) – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 17:06
  • @FumbleFingers ...---... I kindly invite you to edit my answer to improve it, as I’m rather tied up right now and my kidnappers only let me tap things out in Morse code. – tchrist Jun 29 '18 at 17:13
  • No worries. I'd better come clean and admit I just skimmed the first and last paragraphs of your answer when I first commented (and downvoted, but I'll cancel that in a mo). You have actually covered the "non-nominative" sense I was banging on about - but it was in the middle, and I missed it first time around. My captors let me use a keyboard most days, but they're gonna drag me off to be force-fed my tea any minute, so I'll have to leave it to you to make a change if you want to / have time later. – FumbleFingers Jun 29 '18 at 17:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.