Stark Lines Under Elaborate Hardware

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C. F. A. Vcysey's 1899 cabinet is typical of English Arts and Crafts in adding ornament to simpie forms. Voysey's wor*

' gured Cragsman furniture tn America.


work, the forms underlying this ornament tended to be elemental and rectilinear, but the decoration often was sinuous, with overtones of Art Nouveau. For \shbee. running a workshop was of prime importance. He modeled his Guild of Handicraft after medieval craftsmen's guilds with a vision to provide untrained bens with an opportunity to become skilled craftsmen.

Between these extreme interpretations of Morns' message, there were mam shades of opinion and practice. The 1890s was a period of experiment and enterprise, during which designers found ways of working that suited themselves.

Gimson and thf; Barnsleys

Ernest Gimson and Sidney and Ernest Barnslev fall somewhere between the radically different views of \ovsey and Ashbee. 1 hey were deeph affected b\ Morris but created work and a way of life that was enurelv their own. They produced perhaps the most impressive furniture of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, furniture that has had a profound influence on woodworking in the 20th century.

Gimson and the Barnslevs were voung architects in London in the 1880s and

English Arts And Craft Furniture

A CABINET FROM THE COMMUNITY. C. R, Ashbee s writing cabinet in mahogany and hod. was made in 1899 by his Guild of Handicraft, i group of craftsmen who worked communally.

Guild Handicraft

absorbed Morris ideas about the importance for an architect to have a knowledge of crafts. When the design firm Gimson and Sidnev Barnsle\ had helped found went out of business, ihev decided to become furniture makers. At Morris' suggestion. thev moved to the lush and hilly Cots wo Id countryside 80 miles west of London to set up workshops. Sidnev Barnsley's brother, Hrnest. joined them, and the three craftsmen are remembered today as the "Cotswold Group.*

Apart from a similarity of style derived from working closelv as friends. Gimson and the Barnsleys shared an attitude toward craftsmanship that had a profound influence on all their furniture. Their appreciation of the techniques of cabinetmakuig is revealed in their use of exposed joints, nn'i . md -■■■-■■

■ ■ >pted methods ol con struction seen on woodwork from a variety of sources, including fine historic furniture but also architectural woodwork and rural crafts such as uheelwnghting and toolmak-ing. The chamfered edges that are distinctive of their work were derived from their enthusiasm tor traditional farm wagons.

Like other \rts and Crafts designers, Gimson and the Barnslevs looked past the

TYING TOWN AND COUNTRY TOGETHER. In his walnut and ebony sideboard of 1915 (above). Ernest Gimson blended the rich materials and proportions of a formal sideboard with the heavy chamfers of farm implements and wagpns such as the on(' at left.


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