JOHN MELHUISH STRUDWICK

Strudwick worked as a studio assistant to both Spencer Stanhope and Burne-Jones and his style reflects the influence of both. His subjects are usually poetic and allegorical. He was an admirer of Italian Renaissance painting and his pictures reflect this. One of the first writers on Strudwick s work was the young Bernard Shaw who wrote an article on him in 1891 praising his transcendent expressiveness.

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI

Rossetti was a poet and painter, born in London 1828, the son of an Italian political refugee and the brother of Cristina Rossetti. In 1848 he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood together with Holman Hunt and Millais, however, their association was short since Rossetti s romantic imagination set him apart from the more literal endeavours of the others. His subjects were mostly drawn from Dante and from a mediaeval dream world which was also reflected in his poems. Died 1882.

CHARLES-AUGUST MENGUIN

Born in Paris in 1853. Mengin was a pupil of Cabanel and was a sculptor as well as a painter. Exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1876-1927. Sappho was a much-admired Greek lyric poetess, who taught the arts on the Greek island of Lesbos. This dramatically sensual portrait shows Sappho with her lyre on the Leucadian rock, moments before she jumps to her death, according to legend. Died 1933.

SIR LAWRENCE ALMA-TADEMA

Alma-Tadema was born in Holland in 1836 and after studying art in Antwerp, worked for Professor Louis de Taye, a famous archaeologist, later studying Roman and Pompeiian ruins. Thus his re-creation of antiquity was based on profound knowledge. Finding a ready market amongst the English for his classical scenes, he settled in London in 1870 and became one of the most successful Royal Academicians. He was especially noted for his ability to reproduce the effect of sunlight on marble and the sparkle on water. He died in 1912.

JOHN WILLIAM WATERHOUSE

Born in Rome, Italy in 1849, Waterhouse s early work was influenced by Alma-Tadema, and he later became an associate of the Pre-Raphaelites, although his work differed widely from that of the original Brotherhood in its lack of moral seriousness. In particular he devoted his time to classical subjects and the femmes fatales of literature. His paintings were mainly of women: men were usually depicted as victims, as in Hylas and the Nymphs . The Lady of Shalott was one of his first successes, capturing a romantic, dreamy mood in a highly naturalistic setting. The Danaides , in Greek Mythology, were commanded to murder their husbands on their wedding night. All but one obeyed and they were punished by having to draw water from a well and pour it into a vessel from which it continually escaped. Penelope and her Suitors , commissioned by the Aberdeen Art Gallery, was an expensive and controversial purchase. This great Victorian romantic painter, a quiet and modest man, successfully pulled together the opposing late Victorian Subjects of the Pre-Raphaelites and Classicism. He died in London 1917.

SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS

Born in Southampton, England 1829. With Hunt and Rossetti, Millais founded the Ore-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He had amazing technical virtuosity but he was not attached to intellectual dogma like Hunt and gradually drifted away from his early ideals. He started to create works for the popular market and by1875 was earning around £30,000 p.a. from his work. In Ophelia there is an intricate detail in every weed and flower and it is said that the model lay in the bath for hours on end with only candles to warm the water, and she later died of pneumonia. Millais became a baronet in 1885 and on the death of Lord Leighton became president of the Royal Academy in 1896, only to die a few months later in London, 1896.

FREDERICK WILLIAM BURTON

Born in County Clare, Ireland, in 1816, Burton was the son of an amateur artist. He studied in Dublin and exhibited his first watercolour at the RHA in 1832. As a student he mixed with the leading intellectuals of the time, and developed an interest in the Irish landscape and the customs and dress of its people. In 1851 he left Ireland for Germany and spent the next seven years there employed by Maximillian II of Bavaria. During this time he became inspired by the work of the Old Masters. He then settled in London where he was appointed Director of the National Gallery, a post which he held for twenty years. In 1864 he painted his masterpiece The Meeting on the Turret Stairs an illustration of an episode from a Danish Ballad. On his death in 1900 he was taken back to Dublin to be buried.

PHILIP WEBB

Webb met William Morris in G.E. Street’s office in Oxford. His subsequent architectural practice as well as his design career were bound up in the fortunes of the Morris firm. Commissions for both were interdependent, Webb specifying the Morris firm as decorators and Morris recommending Webb as architect. Webb was responsible for the decorative scheme in an early Morris commission, the ‘Green Dining Room’ at the South Kensington Museum (still intact and recently restored by the Victoria and Albert Museum) and drew almost all the birds and animal’s in Morris’ fabric, tapestry and wallpaper designs. He was commissioned by Morris to design table glass by Powell’s and furniture for the Red House in 1859. Webb provided furniture designs for Major Gillum in 1860 and for the Morris firm in 1861 until the responsibility was taken over by his assistant George Jack in the 1880s. Metalwork for gates and fireplaces was executed by Longden, whose London premises were next to Morris & Co.’s showrooms. He used he distinguished carver James Forsyth, who had also worked for R. Norman Shaw, his successor in Street’s office, and W.E. Nesfield among others. Webb retired in 1900, unable to come to terms with what he foresaw as the future of architecture. Shaw described him as ‘A very able man indeed, but with a strong liking for the ugly’.

GEORGE WALTON

Son of a painter, Walton initially worked as a bank clerk and attended evening art classes. His brother E.A. Walton was one of the ‘Glasgow Boys’. George Walton & Co, Ecclesiastical and House Decorators, was established in Glasgow in 1888 as a result of a commission to decorate a new smoking room in one of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms. Walton showed with the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1890, and in 1892 designed the frames and interior for his friend J.Craig Annan’s second photography exhibition. Annan later bought shares in Walton’s company. In 1896 Walton received a further commission from Miss Cranston, to decorate her Buchanan Street premises. His collaborator was C.R. Mackintosh, for whom Walton made some early pieces of furniture. In 1897 Walton moved to London and, as well as retaining his Glasgow showroom, opened a branch in York. Walton’s decoration of Annan’s home and exhibitions and his subsequent introduction to the Linked Ring – a group of photographers founded to promote photography as art – led to many commissions, including a design for the cover of ‘Practical Photography’. Despite having no formal architectural training he built a number of houses including The Leys, Elstree, in 1901 for J.B.B. Wellington, the manager of Kodak at Harrow; and in 1907 the White House and a houseboat, the Log Cabin, for G. Davidson, the retired managing director of Kodak Great Britain. He was retained by the Kodak Company to decorate showrooms in London, Glasgow, Brussels, Milan and Vienna, and his designs were illustrated by Herman Muthesius in ‘Dekorative Kunst’. Walton designed for James Couper’s range of ‘Clutha’ glass, furniture made by J.S. Henry for Liberty, wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co., textiles for Alexander Morton, and carpets. The later years of his career were spent as architect to the Liquor Control Board.

CHARLES FRANCIS ANNESLEY VOYSEY

Articled to J.P. Seddon, Voysey worked for G. Devey in 1880,but at the outset of his own career turned to decorative design while waiting for his architectural practice to gain momentum. He joined the Art Workers Guild in 1884 and exhibited with the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society from 1888. He designed the cover for the first volume of ‘The Studio’ magazine in 1896. Voysey had a great talent for pattern making and designed wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co. and Essex & Co.; textiles for Alexander Morton; tiles for Pilkington’s and later Minton’s; and carpets sold through Liberty. From the mid 1880s he experimented with furniture, much of which was made by F.C. Nielson, in a severe, distinctive, vernacular influenced manner using oak. His large table clock, with versions in plain aluminium, painted wood and polished oak, is one of his most original pieces. Hi also designed tablewares, cutlery, metalwork and lighting made by Thomas Elsley & Co. Although Voysey carried out no public architectural commissions, publication of his designs gave him an international reputation.

AUGUSTUS WELBY NORTHMORE PUGIN

Trained as a draughtsman with his father’s pupils, Pugin embarked on a design career as early as fifteen years of age, with Gothic furniture to be made by Morel and Seddon for Windsor Castle and metalwork for the Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Co. His numerous publications were highly influential; his Reformed Gothic ecclesiastical and domestic buildings set the pattern for the Gothic Revival in England for two decades; his work on the interior of the New Palace of Westminster initiated many patterns and techniques that found their way into the commercial repertory of domestic design. His early stained glass was made by Wailes but from 1845 he used Hardman & Co., who were already making his designs for metalwork, silver and embroideries. Pugin worked with his manufacturers, encouraging the introduction of new products and techniques. His closest allies, Hardman, Crace, Myers and Minton, began to plan their contribution to the Great Exhibition in March 1850. A number of their exhibits for the resulting Medieval Court were chosen by the purchasing committee for the new South Kensington Museum, on which Pugin sat with Henry Cole, and Richard Redgrave. His crowded career came to an end with his mental collapse and he died insane aged only forty.

MORRIS & CO

Founded as Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., by William Morris in 1861, the firm exhibited for the first time in London in 1862. Commissions followed for the South Kensington Museum and St. James’s Palace, as well as for stained glass and private decorating work. Morris became the sole director in 1875, when the firm was renamed Morris & Co. Retail premises in Oxford Street were opened in 1877. With the acquisition of Kelmscott House in Hammersmith in 1878 Morris was able to set up carpet looms. In 1881 he expended into weaving and dyeing workshops at Merton Abbey. Morris’ last venture, the Kelmscott Press, was also housed in Hammersmith. At Morris’ death in 1896 W.A.S. Benson took over the directorship of the firm. In the 1920s the showrooms were transferred to George Street, and in 1940 the business closed.