The Arts and Crafts Movement was the complete antithesis to the excesses of Victorian mass production and taste. John Ruskin and A W N Pugin were already moralising against the commercial onslaught and William Morris was incorporating these philosophies into hand made furniture and artefacts which promoted the skill of the artisan rather than the efficiency of the machine.
The Movement was regarded as the inspiration to the later Art Nouveau, yet making the leap from Arts and Crafts to Art Nouveau was not straightforward. Arts and Crafts furniture was often described as simple and functional and subscribing to the celebration of the artisan, whereas critics of Art Nouveau saw its sinuous style as lacking in philosophical ideas and dismissed it as purely decorative.
Rennie Mackintosh’s designs seemed to somehow draw these two opposing factions together. His furniture was sculptural and loaded with symbolic motifs. Yet his work was also simple and used light and shadow to get the effect that he wanted. He created furniture with the organic quality of the Art Nouveau but also furniture for the individual in line with Arts and Crafts ideals. His designs were a blend of his own Scottishness mixed with Japanese simple styling via the Glasgow shipyards, and the spirit of Art Nouveau which produced a juxtaposition of floral motifs, right angles and Art Nouveau curves.
The Arts and Crafts Glasgow style produced furniture that incorporated the simple styling of Arts and Crafts but also the sophistication and beauty of the Art Nouveau. When looking for Arts and Crafts furniture, Preston specialist antique dealers will be able to help.
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