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The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America

by Lucy Toomey, CEO


On a recent visit to Austin, we spent some time at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center, one of the preeminent research libraries in the country housing the collections of various writers, artists, and designers. We were eager to explore the Ransom Center’s exhibition, “The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America” (February 9 – July 14, 2019).

Harry Ransom Center University of Texas at Austin

   Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Overview

With over 200 original publications, sketches, photos, pieces of furniture, decorative artworks, and advertisements, the exhibition presents the ideas that inspired the Arts and Crafts Movement alongside several representative designs.

Reacting against the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution in the mid 19th century and continuing through the early 20th century, influential theorists and makers — including John Ruskin and William Morris in Britain as well as Elbert Hubbard and Gustav Stickley in America — promoted the use of high-quality materials and handmade production.

While Arts and Crafts items were initially quite expensive, they became widely manufactured and affordable over time given increased consumer demand, which was driven by creative promotional campaigns. As a result, the exhibition contains not only exemplary Stickley furniture and Grueby pottery, for instance, but items by unknown makers whose designs were sold for more commercial purposes.

Catalog

The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America

Penick, Monica, Christopher Long, et al, The Rise of Everday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America, Yale University Press, 2019. 

To accompany the exhibition, the Ransom Center produced a catalog by the same name authored by Monica Penick, Christopher Long et al and published by Yale University Press in February 2019.

In addition to surveying Arts and Crafts history, the volume charts the evolution of the reformist principles underlying the movement, profiles memorable designs, and cites examples of how the handmade ethos was ultimately co-opted for industrial purposes, especially in America, during the first part of the 20th century.

Retailers like Sears, Roebuck and Co. marketed mass-produced furniture in the Arts and Crafts style through mail-order catalogs and department stores. By appealing to a growing preference for finely crafted decor, companies were able to sell the lofty ideals of the movement in the form of cheaper facsimiles. The exhibition catalog traces how Arts and Crafts aesthetic tenets made their way into the mainstream and how they still influence design today.

Virtual Tour

Presented below are selected scenes from “The Rise of Everyday Design” at the Ransom Center. After this virtual tour, we highlight a range of Arts and Crafts lots featured in our Art & Design auction on Sunday, June 9 that relate to the exhibition.

The Rise of Everyday Design: Arts and Crafts in Britain and America

exhibition entrance

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, printed by William Morris' Kelmscott Press

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, printed by William Morris’ Kelmscott Press

wallpaper designs by Morris & Co.

wallpaper designs by Morris & Co. (a joint venture of William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

vase by Christopher Dresser for Linthorpe Pottery Works

vase by Christopher Dresser for Linthorpe Pottery Works

Designs by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

stained glass designs by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

illustration from Arts & Crafts: A Practical Magazine for the Studio, the Workshop, and the Home, published by Hutchinson & Company

rare handled vase designed by George Kendrick for Grueby Faience Company

rare handled vase designed by George Kendrick for Grueby Faience Company

Arts and Crafts furniture items by Charles Limbert (left) and Gustav Stickley (right) with a Grueby Faience Company tile frieze (background)

Arts and Crafts furniture items by Charles Limbert (left) and Gustav Stickley (center and right) with a Grueby Faience Company tile frieze (background)

Arts and Crafts furniture items by unidentified American makers, likely mass-produced

Arts and Crafts furniture items by unidentified American makers, likely mass-produced

Come-Packt Furniture Company advertisement selling Arts and Crafts ideals at a discount

Come-Packt Furniture Company advertisement selling Arts and Crafts style at a discount

 

Art & Design Auction on June 9, 2019

 
There were several Arts and Crafts lots in our Art & Design auction on Sunday, June 9. Below are some highlights from the sale. Click on any lot image to view its catalog page.

View Full Catalog
 
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blessed Damozel

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
The Blessed Damozel
lithograph
published by the Berlin Photographic Company
29” x 15 1/2”
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 45
June 9, 2019
Estimate $300-500
Sold for $187

Alma Florence Mason for Newcomb College, White Wild Rose tile

Alma Florence Mason (1886-1970) for Newcomb College
White Wild Rose tile

New Orleans, Louisiana, 1912 (EZ 53)

matte glazed ceramic

artist signed

tile: 4 3/4″sq; frame: 10 1/2″sq

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 292
June 9, 2019
Estimate $1,000-2,000
Sold for $750

Elizabeth Eaton Burton, Weeping Cherry Blossoms woodblock

Elizabeth Eaton Burton (1869-1937)
Weeping Cherry Blossoms woodblock

signed lower right and monogram

image: 14” x 9 7/8”

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 282
June 9, 2019
Estimate $700-900
Sold for $487

Teco, William J. Dodd, designer, vase #85

Teco, William J. Dodd (1862-1930), designer

vase, #85

Chicago, Illinois

matte green glazed ceramic

two impressed marks, numbered

4 1/4″dia x 11 5/8″h

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 183
June 9, 2019
Estimate $4,000-6,000
Sold for $4,375

E.T. Hurley for Rookwood Pottery, Lake Landscape vase, #2785

E.T. Hurley (1869-1950) for Rookwood Pottery
Lake Landscape vase, #2785

Cincinnati, Ohio, 1939 
Vellum glazed ceramic

impressed and incised marks

5 1/2″dia x 13″h

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 243
June 9, 2019
Estimate $800-1,200
Sold for $1,625

Ruth Erickson for Grueby Faience Company, vase

Ruth Erickson (b. 1883) for Grueby Faience Company

vase

Boston, Massachusetts
carved yellow glazed ceramic

impressed and incised signatures

9 1/2″dia x 19″h

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 177
June 9, 2019
Estimate $9,000-12,000
Sold for $11,250

Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co., Tudric clock, #0609

Archibald Knox (1865-1933) for Liberty & Co.
Tudric clock, #0609

London, England

pewter, blue/green/red enamel, gilt metal

stamped marks

5 3/8″w x 2 5/8″d x 8 1/8″h

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 374
June 9, 2019
Estimate $4,000-6,000
Sold for $3,900

L. & J.G. Stickley, six-light hanging chandelier

L. & J.G. Stickley
six-light hanging chandelier

Fayetteville, New York

copper, frosted glass

unmarked

23 1/2″dia x 36″h

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 233
June 9, 2019
Estimate $6,000-8,000
Sold for $10,625

Dirk van Erp, shell vase

Dirk van Erp (1860-1933)
shell vase
San Francisco, California
brass
stamped marks
10 15/16″dia x 25 5/8″h
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 219
June 9, 2019
Estimate $2,000-4,000
Sold for $1,875

Ernest A. Batchelder, 'Narcissus' chest

Ernest A. Batchelder (1875-1957)
Narcissus chest 
Los Angeles, California 
oak, chestnut, carved pyrographic panel 
27 3/8″w x 14″d x 14 3/8″h
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 286
June 9, 2019
Estimate $3,000-5,000
Sold for $8,750

The Roycrofters, Thirty-Third Degree bookcase, #086

The Roycrofters
Thirty-Third Degree bookcase, #086
East Aurora New York
oak, glass, copper
marked with carved orb
40 1/4″w x 15″d x 55 1/4″h
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 251
June 9, 2019
Estimate $7,000-9,000
Sold for $11,250

Gustav Stickley, bench

Gustav Stickley (1858-1942)
bench
Eastwood, New York, circa 1904
oak
marked with large red decal
Harvey Ellis influenced design,
rare uncataloged form

36 1/2″w x 14 7/8″d x 30″h
Toomey & Co. Auctioneers
Art & Design
Sale 119 Lot 196
June 9, 2019
Estimate $10,000-15,000
Sold for $18,750