22 Apr 2021

Ernest Archibald Taylor (1874 – 1951) was a prestigious Scottish painter; one of the Kirkcudbright School of artists. However, during his early career he was also a skilled designer of stained glass and Arts & Crafts Furniture, working for Wylie and Lochhead and Wragge and Co. His angular, tapered Victorian dining chairs and lead-glass embellished antique cabinets are highly sought after at auctions.

E.A. Taylor was born in Greenock, Scotland, one of seventeen children. He was initially apprenticed as an engineer and designer in the shipbuilding firm Scott and Co, working there until 1898. He then began studying at the Glasgow School of Art, where his fiancée, Jessie King, was also a student. The Glasgow style of Arts &Crafts furniture was well established by then, and Taylor began work as an interior designer, being particularly influenced by the stained glass and furniture designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh .

Taylor gained employment with the Glasgow cabinet-makers, Wylie and Lochhead, winning great acclaim for his Arts and Crafts furniture at the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition. This brought him two major commissions, where he made prominent use of stained glass in his interiors. In 1902, Taylor and Jessie worked together on a series of beautiful stained glass panels for the Turin International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art and, by 1907, Taylor was working as head of furniture design at Wragge and Co, marrying Jessie the following year. The couple then began concentrating on art, moving to Paris where they established an art school.

Prior to her marriage, Jessie had purchased a house at Kirkcudbright, and at the outbreak of World War I she and Taylor returned there. Here, they became tightly embroiled in the Kirkcudbright art community, which was seen as the “Scottish St Ives.” Taylor continued to play a major part in the Kirkcudbright art scene until his death in 1951.

The majority of E.A. Taylor’s antique cabinets, dining chairs, and other Arts & Crafts furniture date from his days with Wylie and Lochhead. The contents of one of his post-Exhibition commissions can be seen at Glasgow Museums.

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