The Arts and Crafts movement that swept the United States and Great Britain from roughly 1880 to 1920 was a response to the industrialization of the late 19th century. It was a call on the part of thinkers, poets, artists, and designers to return to a handmade aesthetic, in which craftsmanship was paramount, design was nature-inspired , and construction methods were straightforward, simple, and undisguised.

English art critic John Ruskin had actually articulated the movement’s founding principles several decades earlier. He considered the prevailing Victorian aesthetic decadent and argued for working conditions that considered the happiness of craftsmen. Pattern designer William Morris put Ruskin’s theories into practice when he established Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1861 to create everything from furniture to wallpaper to fabrics to tapestries.

Another craftsman to put the ideals of Arts and Crafts into action was Charles Robert Ashbee, who established his Guild of Handicraft in 1888 in the slums of London’s East End. The goal was to produce furniture, metalware, and jewelry in an atmosphere of fair wages, good working conditions, and cooperation.

Most British artists of the day did not take the movement’s social side that far. Instead, they contented themselves to producing furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry that hued to the visual principles of the movement, which got its formal name of Arts and Crafts in 1888.

Liberty & Co. in London brought the movement to the masses with chairs, plant stands, bookcases, and buffets, mostly in oak and mahogany. Individual designers of the day included William De Morgan, whose earthenware vases often suggested Persian influences.

Scotsman Charles Rennie Mackintosh, also considered a practitioner of Art Nouveau (which ran concurrently with the Arts and Crafts period), was another leader. From his Glasgow workshop, he produced handsome desks and other pieces of furniture. His high-backed chairs, especially the ones with trellis backs, are considered his signature.

Robert “Mouseman” Thompson arrived on the scene a little later. His charming gimmick was to adorn a carved mouse on the side of every piece of furniture he made...

In the United States, the Arts and Crafts movement was warmly embraced. Gustav Stickley published a highly influential magazine called The Craftsman from 1901 to 1916. Through his Craftsman Workshops in Syracuse, New York, he also produced furniture and metalwork.

Two of Stickley’s brothers, John George and Albert, established their own firm, Stickley Bros. Co., in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1891. After John George left to start yet another Stickley company with yet another brother (L. & J. G. Stickley in Fayetteville, New York with brother Leopold), Albert carried on at Stickley Bros., eventually labeling his pieces with a tag that read "Quaint Furniture."

Leopold and John George produced pieces for one of the 20th century's greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. Today Wright is more closely associated with what we now call the Prairie School, a type of architecture that emphasized horizontal lines and eschewed ornamentation. But at the turn of the 20th century, he was considered one of the leading practitioners of Arts and Crafts. Importantly, Leopold and John George were not above using mechanical techniques to produce their pieces. Thus, they embraced the aesthetic of Arts and Crafts if not its social and philosophical underpinnings.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was perhaps even more famous than Stickley, although like Macintosh, his style straddled Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. Some of the finest examples of the former are his lamps with ceramic bases by Grueby Faience Company of Massachusetts.

Speaking of ceramics, the oldest pottery in the United States, Fulper Pottery Company, also became a proponent of Arts and Crafts with its 1909 Vasecraft line. Rookwood Pottery was a breeding ground for numerous Arts and Crafts ceramists — at one time or another, Artus Van Briggle, Matthew A. Daly William P. MacDonald, Albert Valentien, and John D. Wareham were all on staff.

More difficult to categorize was George Ohr, the so-called "Mad Potter of Biloxi, Mississippi," whose deformed and pinched vases fairly drip with candy-colored glazes. Newcomb College pottery from New Orleans went the other way, promoting simply-shaped vases and plates, usually with floral decorations in soft, pastel glazes.

Regions developed their own specialties. New York was the home of Roycroft, which excelled in copper objects for the home, handmade books, and fine wooden furniture. In Northern California, Arequipa Pottery of Fairfax imported future Fiesta visionary Frederick H. Rhead to design its pieces from 1910-1912. Dirk Van Erp was another San Francisco Bay Area artisan of renown: His metal vases featured his trademark "warty" surface produced by hand-hammering.

In Southern California, Pasadena was the center for Arts and Crafts. In 1908, architects Charles Sumner and Henry Matthew Greene designed what many consider to be the movement’s architectural masterpiece for David and Mary Gamble. A year later, tilemaker Ernest T. Bachelder established a school devoted to the movement.

Meanwhile, in Chicago and Boston, jewelry in the Arts and Crafts style was very popular. The Kalo Shop opened in Chicago in 1900. And in Boston, Frank Gardner Hale and Edward E. Oakes were among that city’s leading jewelry designers.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

1910 Metal

1910 Metal

A detailed tribute to the lesser-known artistic metalwork craftsmen of the Arts and Crafts movement. In addition t… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Bigelow & Kennard Leaded Stained Glass Lamp Shade Arts & Crafts Nr!Small Antique Authentic Signed Lct Tiffany Favrile Art Glass Cabinet Vase, NrSecessionist Arts & Crafts Nouveau Copper & Enamel Mantel Clock German MercedesLovely Arts & Crafts Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter Desk Clock Rare Handel Arts & Crafts Copper Table Lamp W/ Green Mosserine ShadeArts&crafts,art Nouveau,deco Handel Lamp BaseRoycroft Hammered Copper Tulip Taper Signed Orb And Cross Candle StickAntique Art Nouveau Green Slag Glass Lamp Arts & Crafts Bradley Hubbard Era YqzVintage Arts & Crafts Original Hammered Oak Lamp Base With Copper NailheadsAntique, 19thc, Charles H. Miller, Luminist Landscape O/c Oil Painting, NrAntique Carl Jonnevold American Arts & Crafts Oil Painting, California LandscapeHayley Lever Abstract New Jersey Landscape Oil Painting Newcomb Macklin FrameAntique Arts & Crafts Hammered Copper Vase Flower Pot Roycroft Dirk Van Erp? NrAntique Signed Handel Double Student Lamp W/ Cut & Frosted Glass Shades, NrSmall Antique Hand Hammered Copper, Silver & Enamel Arts & Crafts BoxArt Deco Egyptian Rookwood Bookend Artist Sgnd 1925 William Mcdonald Matte GlazeFinest Asahel Curtis Washington State Hand Tinted Framed Landscape Photograph NrAntique Cambridge American Arts & Crafts Art Pottery Matte Green Pitcher Mug SetWas Benson Wall Table Lamp Arts And Crafts For RestorationLarge Archibald Knox Liberty Tudric C1905 Pewter Biscuit Barrel No. 0194 Fine Rare Liberty & Co Tudric Vase 0227 By Archibald KnoxAntique, Theodore Coester, Long Island Landscape Impressionist Oil Painting NrAntique Art Deco Signed Handel Piano Or Banker Style Desk LampAntique Mission Arts Crafts Weller Art Pottery Roma Atlantic Pinecone Panel VaseAntique George Hallock Jr Impressionist Long Island Ny Landscape Oil Painting, Fine Liberty & Co Tudric English Pewter Pin Tray By Archibald Knox 01259Arts&crafts,art Nouveau,deco Era Czechoslovakian Mcfaddin "bellova" Lamp BaseMarguerite Hawkins Long Island Ny Impressionist Painting Newcomb Macklin FrameFine Rare Liberty & Co Tudric Vase 0251 By Archibald KnoxAntique Arts Crafts C1920 Weller Art Pottery Silver Green Marengo Lustre VaseRare Liberty & Co Tudric Art Nouveau Pewter Preserve Spoon By Archibald Knox Rare 1904 Weller Arts & Crafts Mug, Frederick Rhead, Jap Birdmal Geisha MajolicaMoravian Art Tile ~ Mission Frieze ~henry Mercer ~ Like Grueby ~ Arts CraftsPair Of Vintage Arts & Crafts Reticulated Cast Iron Floral Branch Wall Shelf YqzAntique 19th C Parquetry Inlaid Wood Table Arts & Crafts Marquetry 3 Bathers YqzRoycroft Copper Pen Tray Elbert Hubbard Middle Mark Arts And Crafts Adorable Arts And Crafts Rookwood Vase 1936Antique Double Socket Handel Boudoir Lamp Early 1900'sAntique Arts & Crafts Mission Cast Iron Slag Glass Ceiling Porch Light Fixture Lovely Arts & Crafts Newlyn School Copper Fish Pin Tray SignedRare Maxfield Parrish & Jules Guerin Folio Of 38 Color Art Plates For Students Gustav Stickley Mission Oak Arts & Crafts Craftsman Drop Front Desk #729 C1912 Mission Arts & Crafts Dirk Van Erp Scalloped Copper Large Bowl Beautiful Original Arts And Crafts Copper Panel Daffodil Flower Signed Sb Or Bs Antique Solid Sterling Silver Arts & Crafts Tea Caddy Spoon 1928 Bernard InstoneHampshire Pottery Matte Green Arts And Crafts Hooded Chamber Candle StickArts&crafts,art Nouveau,deco,miller,bradley&hubbard,empire Slag Glass Lamp BaseAntique Artist Signed American Impressionist Winter Snow Landscape Oil PaintingArts & Crafts Pottery Vase With Two Tone Green Glaze #424 On Base Unknown No ResStickley Corner CabinetArts & Crafts Sterling Silver Fish Server Galleon Ship Trident Omar Ramsden 1923Arts & Crafts Guild Of Handicraft 1957 Sterling / Solid Silver Cup / BeakerAntique 4 Light Brass Chandelier With Heavy Chain Arts & Crafts PeriodAntique 20thc Austrian Opal, Pearl & Enamel Silver Gilt Bracelet C.1920Hand Wrought Cellini Arts & Crafts Lobed Sterling Silver BowlArts And Crafts Embroidered Linen Laundry BagArts & Crafts Alexander Ritchie Ar Iona Ica Hallmarked Silver St Martin's CrossNice Arts And Crafts Victorian Reception Shop Counter Brass Bell ChrysanthemumsSet X 11, Liberty & Co , Solid Silver Fruit Cutlery, 1913Arabic Islamic Genuine Antique Hammered Copper--brass Coffee Pot / Dallah C1890

Recent News: Arts and Crafts Era

Source: Google News

The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed
Den of Geek!, July 3rd

It was designed by the architects Greene and Greene, and is a prime example of the Arts and Crafts movement. Hey, we didn't say all the 'nerdy spots' were going to be about movie references, you know. 21. “I don't know if I could take that kind of a...Read more

Art openings and events, July 3-9
Monterey County Herald, July 2nd

Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada: “Lasting Impressions — Pedro de Lemos,” prints, oil paintings, watercolor, drawings, calligraphy, pottery, leather and cement work from a California artist of the Arts and Crafts Movement. 720 Vía Mirada, Monterey...Read more

Landmark Oak Cliff church closing its doors
Dallas Morning News, July 1st

But inside, the many rectangular stained-glass windows feature a simplicity that reflects the Arts and Crafts movement popular at the turn of the century. Balconies have brass railings with a deep patina. The church is one of 145 buildings designated a...Read more

Rebuilding from blaze helps Glasgow kindle new knowledge
Times Higher Education, July 1st

And it is clear now that although the finish of the library featured the attention to detail that typified the Arts and Crafts Movement, the construction techniques are better likened to shop-fitting, Dr Calvert said. Nails were inserted “where they...Read more

Curbed's Guide to Architectural Tourism Across the Country
Curbed National, June 29th

You can scan social media and admire great architecture and design from afar, but there's something to be said about seeing a great work in its natural environment. The 4th of July is fast approaching, peak time for mapping out road trips and making...Read more

Book Review: 'Sadie's Winter Dream' gives Maine rug hooking rich texture
Press Herald, June 28th

The idea of having women make rugs had its roots in the world Arts and Crafts movement and came directly from the Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland and the Maritimes. The Grenfell rugs used professional designers and were made by locals and sold at a ...Read more

Couple transform a tired looking 1920 Arts and Crafts house into an elegant ...
Ham&High, June 26th

The Arts and Crafts Movement. The Arts and Crafts Movement was a reaction to the excesses of Victorian industrialisation. It grew from a desire to revive traditional craftsmanship and restore simplicity and honesty to how buildings and furnishings were...Read more

Members of Arts and Crafts movement had their own vision for furniture, frames
Orillia Packet & Times, June 19th

In distinct opposition to the reformers of the schools of design were William Morris and the other members of the Arts and Crafts movement with their intention of creating affordable, handcrafted goods reflecting the individual creative design, which...Read more