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    

Signed Handel Slag Glass Lamp ShadeRare Antique Leaded Slag Stained Glass Arts & Crafts Gorham Table Lamp Arts&crafts,nouveau,deco Handel Leaded Stained Slag Glass "wisteria" LampMiller Slag Glass Lamp - Bradley Hubbard Antique Arts & Crafts Leaded Handel EraArts & Crafts Boudoir Lamp - Bradley Hubbard Tiffany Studios Handel Slag LeadedAntique Leaded Slag Stained Glass Arts & Crafts Handel Tiffany Era Table Lamp Handel Arts Crafts Antique Slag Glass Leaded Bradley Hubbard Era Lamp NrHeintz Antique Sterling Silver On Bronze Floral Dish Plate Arts Crafts SculptureStickley- Harvey Ellis Media Cabinet. Gorgeous, Pristine Condition!Antique Whaley Leaded Lamp - Handel Duffner Era Slag Stained Glass Arts & CraftsHandel/unique Leaded Lamp - Slag Stained Glass Reverse Painted Arts & CraftsFine Liberty & Co Tudric Cache Pot By Archibald Knox 0288Stickley Harvey Ellis Oak Cabinet/bookcase -pristine Condition. Handel Arts & Crafts Table Lamp Shade With Mica Inserts - SignedHandel Reverse Painted Lamp - Leaded Slag Arts & Crafts Pairpoint Tiffany EraAntique Early 1900s Copper Arts And Crafts Jardiniere Hand Hammered 3/3 Nr YqzAntique Arts & Crafts Sterling On Bronze Heintz Mountain Lion Cigar HumidorCharles Rohlfs Wooden Half Circle Shape Jewelry Box 1901 Arts + Crafts MissionLarge Bronze Arts Crafts Leaded Slag Glass Bradley Hubbard - Handel Style Lamp BCalifornia-american Impressionist Oil Painting By Joseph Greenbaum / Arts&craftsRoycroft Hammered Copper Candlesticks Candleholders Pair VintageFine Arts & Crafts Hammered, Riveted And Embossed Copper Box Circa.1900Antique Early 1900s Copper Arts And Crafts Jardiniere Hand Hammered 2/3 Nr YqzFine Liberty & Co Tudric Mustard Pot By Archibald Knox 0349Antique Bradley & Hubbard Leaded Slag Stained Glass Arts & Crafts Table Lamp Rare Handel 6706 F.l. Blackberry Boudoir Lamp Reverse Painted Signed ShadeRoycroft Hammered Copper Book Ends BookendsStickley Arts & Crafts Mission Oak Mantle ClockAntique- Julius Dressler, Austria- Art-nouveau,ceramic Buttress Floor VaseAntique American Impressionist Painting Newcomb Macklin Era Arts & Crafts FrameAntique Pair Of Wood Carved Plein Air American Deco Arts Crafts 14"x17" FrameAntique Nesting Table Solid Oak, Arts And Crafts Set Of Side Table Rustic ChicArchibald Knox For Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter & Enamel Mantel Clock CaseAntique German Secessionist Arts & Crafts Handmade Forged Iron Candlestick, Nr1872 Currier&ives Frolicsome Pets Antique Handcolor Lithograph Arts & Crafts Yqz1916 Ruskin Pottery Arts & Crafts Movement Pot Or Vase1863 Currier & Ives Brother & Sister Antique Lithograph Arts & Crafts Frame YqzVoysey Glasgow School Arts & Crafts Letter Rack Mackintosh Talwin Morris C1910Matte Green Arts And Crafts Vase Great Pot!! Nr! Mint!Fine Antique Gold Top Cane Walking Stick Circa 1910Antique Arts & Crafts Gustav Stickley Craftsman Signed Footstool Orig LeatherDeco Mission Craftsman Studios Los Angeles Hammered Copper Peacock Box NumberedArts & Crafts Chamber Candle Stick Arts & Crafts / Art Nouveau Not Benson 1900Vintage Hammered Copper Metal Double Pull String Rustic Decor Lamp Light Vintage ** Silver Crest Pinecones Bronze Bowl ** Arts And Crafts EraArts And Crafts Hammered Copper DishLarge Jean Faber Limbert French Modernist Abstract Stillife O/c Oil PaintingRoseville Early Carnelian Matte Green Pottery Vase, Arts & Crafts, C. 1916Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter Desk Clock 01321 - Archibald Knox??Antique Arts & Crafts Bookshelf, Victorian Mahogany Display Shelf Rustic ChicPairpoint Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Mission Antique Bradley Hubbard Era LampAntique Arts And Crafts Bat Wing Pie Crust Picture Frame 11" X 14" Curtis EraAntique Solid Sterling Silver Cigarette Case Arts & Crafts Hammered Finish 1898Excellent Big Sterling On Copper Arts And Crafts Vase, Tiffany? Heintz? Gorham?Handel Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Mission Antique Pairpoint Era Boudoir Lamp NrW A S Benson Lamp / Light Base C 1910Vtg~rookwood 5" Vase~handles~vellum~matt~ Xviii 1918~rose~mauve~607c~arts CraftsAntique Copper Metal Arts And Crafts 9" D Footed Bowl Dish SculptureVintage Rare Arts And Crafts Weller Vase Blue And Floral Decorated 9" HighJefferson Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Bradley Hubbard Handel Era Lamp Nr

Recent News: Arts and Crafts Era

Source: Google News

Great British Gardens: Hestercombe - An Iconic Lutyens Lanscape in Somerset
Anglotopia.net, December 18th

She knew William Morris and like Lutyens had been absorbed into Romanticism and the Arts and Crafts Movement. In gardening she was strongly influenced by William Robinson, who had broken with the 19th century use of tender 'bedding plants', such as ...Read more

Alhambra to get $130-million shopping and housing complex
Los Angeles Times, December 11th

20th century Alhambra, which lies south of San Marino and South Pasadena, was "a charming Midwestern-style community," Los Angeles historian Greg Fischer said, with a great variety of homes including many inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement...Read more

Original businesses join with new ones to celebrate the season
Woodstock Times, December 9th

“I just felt like Woodstock was a good fit because if its history with arts and crafts movement, and what it is now,” he added. “It's been really great…a perfect distance from all parts of our life.” Across the street at DDay, named for when the...Read more

At Lord & Taylor, a Peek at Bygone Ceramic Splendors
New York Times, December 4th

A ceramics historian has discovered traces of the work of a major terra cotta manufacturer from the 1910s at Lord & Taylor's flagship store in Manhattan. The remnants had been part of a balconied boutique devoted to plants and cut flowers, said the...Read more

Six Women Who Broke New Ground
BU Today, November 30th

“Proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement integrated the fine and decorative arts, thereby permitting women greater recognition amongst artists,” notes show curator Caroline Riley (CAS'04, GRS'16), the Jan and Warren Adelson Fellow in American Art in ...Read more

WeWork leases six floors in downtown LA's Fine Arts Building
Los Angeles Times, November 26th

In the lobby is a vast assortment of tiles by Pasadena artist Ernest A. Batchelder, a leading figure of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, and a mural by popular theater muralist Anthony Heinsbergen. Sorgente specializes in...Read more

A Gorgeous iPad Game Inspired By The Arts and Crafts Movement
Co.Design, October 31st

Last week, the Victoria & Albert Museum released "Strawberry Thief," an iPad app based on the textiles of 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement designer William Morris. Sophia George, the museum's first game designer-in-residence, studied one...Read more

Plans unfolding for huge new art museum in downtown St. Petersburg
Tampabay.com, June 27th

The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement would rise on a downtown St. Petersburg site with a multimillion-dollar permanent collection in a four-story, 90,000-square-foot building designed at a cost of more than $35 million by Alfonso...Read more