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THE MILLINERY WORKS ART GALLERY BY DESIGN From Victorian Studios to the Arts & Crafts Movement

by patrick macnamara May 18, 2016

THE MILLINERY WORKS ART GALLERY  BY DESIGN From Victorian Studios to the Arts & Crafts Movement

 

Above: HENRY J HUNT working 1931 - 1941
34. St Wenceslas a cartoon for stained glass, signed; 22in high 12in wide. 
By an artist, whose exhibits at the RA include a design for the Arms of the Glaziers’ Company in 1931.

INTRODUCTION

It is some three years since my last exhibition at the Millinery Works Gallery; since that memorable and successful show, I have held only one exhibition - that being by special invitation within the Museum of Stained Glass in Ely.

This exhibition is my fourteenth devoted to design - the first, back in 1987, entirely of the works of Henry Holiday, was held in my own gallery in Brompton Road, London.

To enjoy the maximum advantage of the Arts & Crafts ambience at the Millinery Works, I have keenly sought out Arts & Crafts designers; pupils of Christopher Whall (1849 - 1920) and others who were influenced by the uniquely British Arts & Crafts Movement. Whall’s own work, much of which is in the safe hands of the William Morris Gallery, is unobtainable.

This show includes work by Louis Davis, who with Whall was a pioneer of this style in the 1890s; and of numerous pupils - Karl Parsons, Anning Bell, Walter Camm, Mabel Esplin, Selwyn Image, Edward Woore and others.

For the first time, I have purchased the contents of a whole studio - comprising a wealth of designs by Harcourt Medhurst Doyle (1913 - 2001). These are in excellent condition, thanks to his practice of covering each design with cellophane. A methodical man, each one is stylishly lettered with its location and other information, such as the scale of drawing. They have all been finished by the artist with stipple work to resemble a stone surface. One of his strengths is in small details - three, celebrating St Francis, depict clearly a puffin, a razorbill, swallows and other birds; I could give many similar examples.

Two designs by J C Bewsey, known as ‘boozy’ Bewsey, are the first I have encountered since an exceptionally vivid WWI design for Skelton-in-Cleveland. The sale of this design resulted in a significant breakthrough in public awareness of the high quality church window design can attain. It was purchased by the local Cleveland museum and funded by the NACF itself! His work is characterised by good planning of subject and exceptionally fine brushwork.

To add to the interest of the “By Design” show and to justify the title, I have included much variety - a poster for Jaffa oranges; a design for a silver cup, (which is reproduced in the Studio magazine); architect’s perspective views; a Walter Crane costume design; invitations for the London Sketch Club members’ events and many others. Finally a “Book Corner” where out-of-print books will complement bookplates and book illustrations.

Perhaps you can help with two problem designs, which await firm attribution. One with the monogram J M S - the S is the largest initial, and presumably the surname, still defies identification. The other attributed to Parlby has the Royal Coat of Arms at the top of the design; the Arms of the Glaziers’ Company at the bottom - intriguing!

Much assistance has been rendered to me in unravelling attributions and locations by Peter Cormack, Keeper at the William Morris Gallery, whose expertise in this subject is unrivalled. I am deeply grateful for his knowledge and patience. The energy and enthusiasm allied to much hard work of the Millinery Works team made this catalogue possible and my grateful thanks to them and to the photographer Nick Smith.

Rachel Moss




patrick macnamara
patrick macnamara

Author




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