Architect-Designers: From Pugin to Voysey

  • LONDON, United Kingdom
  • /
  • April 14, 2015

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Architect-Designers: From Pugin to Voysey, at The Fine Art Society, New Bond Street, London, is the seventh and last exhibition showcasing the renowned John Scott Collection. The selection presents some of the finest pieces in the collection, illustrating a critical period of British design when architects showed that there was nothing too small or unimportant, inside or outside the home, to turn their attention to. From A.W.N. Pugin’s 1830s designs for the Palace of Westminster to C.F.A. Voysey’s own side table, this selling exhibition will include rare ceramics, glass and textiles alongside furniture and metalwork.


Though he is most famous as one of the star architects behind the Palace of Westminster, it has long been accepted that A.W.N. Pugin led the way in establishing the most important principles of the Arts & Crafts Movement that put Britain at the forefront of avant-garde design from the 1851 Great Exhibition through to the outbreak of the First World War. This exhibition offers a full range of this great designer’s work - from pieces for the Palace of Westminster including an elaborate side chair for the Princes’ Chamber, through to simple structural tables which were easy to put together at a day’s notice (the nineteenth century equivalent of the Ikea flat pack). Other pieces by Pugin include oak panelling and brass grilles from the Palace of Westminster, an exquisite silver ewer made by Hardman in 1849, ceramics for Minton & Co, and Pugin’s own ‘prie dieu’ .

William Morris and his peers also form a central part of the exhibition bridging the early Gothic Revival via the Art Movement to the simple modern lines of Voysey’s vernacular work and the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Outstanding in this group is a William De Morgan large tile panel in his distinctive Persian blue depicting exotic birds and intertwined snakes, from 1890. A small Hammersmith rug, W.A.S. Benson lighting and furniture, stained glass and textiles will recreate the essence of the Morris interior.

The John Scott Collection was amassed over 50 years by decorative arts collector, John Scott. The works in this exhibition are particularly important to Scott, as an advocate for the ‘forgotten heroes’ of modern British design, whilst William Morris and Philip Webb had long been accorded a place in the canon of Modernist design many major figures had yet to find defenders. Scott says “I like to applaud the ghosts of those who were unhappy, not fully appreciated and not remembered as they deserved... I wish to raise up exult and applaud [the likes of] C.F.A Voysey who died in relative poverty and ate off the little table we are offering.”

The Fine Art Society has a history of exhibiting the work of British architect designers. The gallery’s 1981 ‘Architect-Designers: Pugin to Mackintosh’ catalogue by Dr Clive Wainwright, then curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, opened with “Anyone seriously interested in the decorative arts of the nineteenth century...[knows that] many of the best objects were designed by an architect”. Thirty-four years on, in an echo of the 1981 exhibition and once again in collaboration with Michael Whiteway, many of the same designers return to The Fine Art Society. Alongside Voysey, Morris and A.W.N. Pugin will be Pugin’s son, E.W. Pugin, Philip Webb, Owen Jones, G.E. Street; J.P. Seddon; Bruce Talbert; W.A.S. Benson and Ernest Gimson. A striking cabinet by E.W.Godwin, the architect who designed the entrance facade of the Fine Art Society will also be included.

Rowena Morgan-Cox, Decorative Arts Specialist at the Fine Art Society says, “The Scott Collection has been the largest single project the gallery has ever undertaken, totalling seven exhibitions. It has also been amongst the most successful, both commercially and in presenting works of constantly high quality, Collectors, museums and dealers have responded with great enthusiasm to this rare opportunity to buy the very best. The final exhibition encapsulates the heart of the collection - a celebration of British design, innovation and ingenuity from the late Victorian period into the earlytwentieth-century- and includes many of its prize pieces. It truly does ‘save the best until last’.”

The Fine Art Society
148 New Bond Street
London, United Kingdom
(0)20 7318 1895

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