In May of 1899, Liberty & Co. in London launched their new line of silver and jewelry with a catalog and exhibition at the store. Founded in 1875 and still in business today, Liberty was an emporium for imported fabrics, metalware, and home furnishings, as well as work by local Arts & Crafts artists. Archibald Knox (1864-1933; from the Isle of Man), became one of Liberty’s most influential designers. In addition to metalwork, he designed textiles, carpet, pottery and furniture for Liberty. Knox was also an accomplished watercolorist and educator. Due to Knox’s artistic inventiveness and the wide distribution of Liberty & Co., he has become deservedly renowned for his designs, which often show the influence of Celtic patterns and Art Nouveau curves.
Only a few other museums in the world consistently show pieces by Liberty & Co., including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Bröhan Museum, Berlin; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Manx Museum, Isle of Man.
Twenty-five Liberty works are on permanent view at Kirkland Museum; we believe this to be the largest collection on view at any museum worldwide. This temporary exhibition, Liberty of London and Archibald Knox, will include Liberty designs that have not been previously displayed at the Kirkland. Their designs date from 1898 to about 1908 when Knox was most active. Of the 64 pieces by Liberty in Kirkland Museum’s collection, we believe most were designed by Knox. Liberty insisted on complete anonymity for their designers, because they wanted the company, and not the designers, to be known for their product.
Liberty examples include Tudric (pewter), Cymric (silver)—often inlaid with enamel and sometimes semi-precious gems—and one ceramic piece. The Kirkland Museum collection features Liberty clocks, vases, candlesticks, jewelry, an inlaid tea and coffee set with tray and spoon, handled server with original green glass insert and spoon, knife rests, butter plate and knife, and an inlaid ice tub. The Liberty objects were produced in England—one of 39 countries represented in Kirkland Museum’s collection with 3,300 decorative art works on view.
Liberty of London and Archibald Knox
September 16 to October 16, 2011
Curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director & Curator of Kirkland Museum
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, 1311 Pearl St., Denver, CO.
Archibald Knox Lecture
Kirkland Museum will be the first stop on the lecture tour of Liam O’Neill, chairman of the Archibald Knox Society (located on the Isle of Man) on Thursday, September 22nd. Mr. O’Neill’s lecture is titled Archibald Knox: In the Ministry of the Beautiful.
Liam O’Neill has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the University of Ottawa and an MA in Celtic Christianity from Lampeter, University of Wales. He has worked in education as a teacher and lecturer for over thirty years and has a passionate interest in the life and work of Archibald Knox. In 2006 he founded the Archibald Knox Society (www.archibaldknoxsociety.com) of which he is currently Chairman. The society’s mission is to promote the legacy of Archibald Knox both nationally and internationally, presenting the Isle of Man as an ‘Island for an Art Lover’.
After his first stop in Denver, O’Neill will travel to Seattle for the 14th Annual Bungalow Fair where his September 24th lecture is co-sponsored by the Seattle Art Museum and The Royal Oak Foundation. After Seattle, he travels to The Gamble House in Pasadena to deliver a lecture on September 27th, part of the Sydney D. Gamble Lecture Series and co-sponsored by The Royal Oak Foundation.