This week’s gem from the Stoddard – Templeton Design Archive is a series of small Arts and Crafts sketches.
The designs have been carried out in either paint, ink or pencil on tracing paper, and as such, are very fragile indeed. What’s more, at some point, these already fragile designs have unfortunately been attached in multiples to single sheets of backing paper, providing not the most ideal of storage conditions and making it very difficult to ascertain if any important contextual information lurks on the reverse of the designs! Nevertheless, their beauty remains…
Some of the sketches resemble those by H. W. Batley, whose designs have featured in an earlier post, or Silver Studio, but none have been signed or ascribed as such. In fact, just one of the designs has been signed and that is a tiny sketch by F.J. Weideman, whose beautiful sketch books have also provided the subject matter for a previous blog post.
The pioneers of the Arts and Crafts Movement felt that modern art and decorative art was bad largely because of the conditions of life for working people in an industrialised society. Therefore, in reaction to Victorian industrialised society and the social ills they perceived went with it, they campaigned for a return to hand-craftsmanship and in turn a better quality of life for craftsmen.
Though tiny and really just rough sketches, these designs feature some of the design principles associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement: patterns inspired by nature, with an interest in British flora and fauna in particular, often paired with a flat, simplified quality, without unnecessary, superfluous decoration. Visually, Arts and Crafts designs often share similarities with Art Nouveau designs of the same period, in part due to the shared influence of the pared down, simplicity of Japanese and Oriental art. The majority of these designs exist only as preliminary sketches and were probably never executed as carpet designs, but rather bought in by Templeton’s to act as sources of inspiration for in-house designers.
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