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”)



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    

Bradley Hubbard Arts Crafts mission Antique Leaded Slag Glass Handel Era Lamp NrRare Lrg Antique Van Briggle American Art & Crafts Pottery Peacock Feather VaseAntique Arts & Crafts Tiffany Studios Gilt Bronze #552 Pine Needle Desk LampWilkinson Arts Crafts Leaded Slag Glass Antique Handel Bradley Hubbard Era Lamp Antique Maxfield Parrish 1929 Chromolithograph Print, Ecstasy, NrSuper Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter & Enamel Jug Archibald Knox Antique 1904 Maxfield Parrish Chromolithograph Print, The Dinkey Bird, NrSteuben Arts Crafts Antique Art Glass Favrile Damascene Quezal Shades Sconce Nr1920's Arts Crafts Hammered Copper Riviere Lamp Base Hubbell Handel Duffner Use1916 Rookwood Arts Crafts Green Celadon Crackled 6 Buttress Handled Pottery VaseWonderful Arts & Crafts Liberty & Co Tudric Vase By Archibald Knox 0226Stunning Arts & Crafts / Nouveau Copper Photo Frame / Peacocks / Picture FrameRare Small Antique Pottery Roseville Vase Early Velmoss 6" Green Arts & CraftsFine Liberty & Co Cymric Silver & Enamel Tea Spoon By Archibald Knox 1902Arts & Crafts, Nouveau Wilkinson "chrysanthemum" Stained Leaded Slag Glass Lamp Rare Antique Pottery Roseville Vase Early Velmoss 10" Green Arts & CraftsAntique Grace Bliss Stewart Flower Stillife Oil Painting, Newcomb Macklin FrameFine Pair Liberty & Co Cymric Silver & Enamel Tea Spoons By Archibald Knox Rare Liberty & Co Tudric English Pewter And Purple Enamel Art Nouveau Box Superb Pair Arts And Crafts Gothic Brass+vaseline Glass Wall Lights Benson EraWonderful Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter & Enamel Coffee Pot Archibald Knox 0231Exquisite Antique Pottery Roseville Vase Early Velmoss 12" Green Arts & CraftsBradley Hubbard Arts Crafts Mission Antique Leaded Slag Glass Handel Era Lamp NrSuper Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter & Enamel Milk Jug Archibald Knox 0231Pittsburgh Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Bradley Hubbard Pairpoint Era Lamp NrAntique Huge 25 1/2" Dirk Van Erp Serving Tray Platter * Arts & CraftsAntique Charles Horner Enamel Silver Arts&crafts/art Nouveau Brooch Chester 1910Antique Early 20thc Hand Hammered Arts & Crafts Copper Table Lamp, NrEarly Roycroft Hammered Copper Tray-arts&crafts/stickley/mission EraLiberty & Co Silver Enamel Arts & Crafts Buckle Rare Early Roycroft Hammered Copper Tray-arts&crafts Mission Stickley EraFulper Pottery Antique Art Deco China Blue Crystalline Glaze Cabinet Vase 13 YqzRare Vintage Arts & Crafts Robert Mouseman Thompson Carved Oak Table Lamp C.1950Magnificent Arts & Crafts Box With CabochonsMiniature Antique Martin Brothers Flambe Vase, Signed 'martin 1899'Arts & Crafts Hand-made Stone Set Solid Sterling Silver Spoon 1932/ L 15.2 CmBlanche Vulliamy Grotesque Finger Plate Arts And Crafts Brannam Devon Pottery Motawi Art Tile Skylight Frank Lloyd Wright 4" X 8" Arts And CraftsBradley Hubbard Arts Crafts Mission Slag Glass Hammered Copper Handel Era LampBeautiful All Original Empire Arts & Crafts Slag Glass Table Lamp W/ Aztec BaseArts And Crafts Copper Pictures Original Oak FramesFulper Pottery Antique Art Deco Chinese Blue Flambe Glaze Squat Vase Nr #7 YqzJames Powell Whitefriars Opaline Vaseline Glass Chimney Vase Arts And Crafts (2)Very Fine Rare & Unusual Liberty & Co Tudric Vase 0268 By Archibald KnoxArchibald Knox Liberty & Co - A Rare Early Tudric 0141 Large Capstan InkwellAntique Pairpoint~handel~bradley & Hubbard~pittsburg Style Metal Lamp BasePilkingtons Royal Lancastrian Large Blue Arts And Crafts Pottery Vase RuskinFarnham Pottery Or Bourne Denby Danesby Ware Blue And Green Arts Crafts Owl Jug Yattendon Guild Arts And Crafts Brass Letter Post Box Newlyn Pearson Newcomb Macklin 20 X 24 Hand Carved And Gilt Arts & Crafts Antique Picture FrameAttractive Arts And Crafts Carved And Pokerwork Frame, Circa 1900. No Reserve.Antique Arts & Crafts Solid Silver Planished Cigarette Box Joseph Braham 1912Stunning Arts & Crafts Silver 2 Handled Cup, London 1909 Drinking Or TrophyFulper Pottery Antique Art Deco Chinese Blue Crystalline Glaze Squat Vase #8 YqzJames Powell Huge Two Colour Arts And Crafts Glass Chalice Whitefriars Fulper Pottery Antique Art Deco Brown Crystalline Glaze Squat Vase Handles 9 YqzLarge Newlyn Arts And Crafts Inkwell Circa 1910 No ReserveFulper Pottery Antique Art Deco Chinese Blue Flambe Glaze Ovoid Vase Nr #10 YqzPair Of Original Arts & Crafts Twin Arm Brass Wall Lights.Fulper Pottery Antique Art & Crafts Chinese Blue Crystalline Footed Bowl #22 Yqz

Recent News: Arts and Crafts Era

Source: Google News

The Rise of the New Artisan Class
Bacon's Rebellion, November 26th

Richmond is hardly unique in having a vibrant arts community — Charlottesville and Staunton craftsmen were well represented at the particular event I attended — but the arts and crafts movement is growing. Many Richmond-area artists have a connection ...Read more

Zandra Rhodes breaks all the Christmas traditions with neon PINK tree
Daily Mail, November 26th

Standen was designed in 1892 by architect Philip Webb, a close friend of William Morris and one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, for the wealthy Beale family. It is decorated with Morris carpets, fabrics and wallpaper and is now looked...Read more

New St. Pete coming together -- in 2018
FOX 13 News, Tampa Bay, November 25th

No details have emerged yet on the James Museum of Western Art, but a spokesman for the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement confirmed a 2018 completion target. Referring to the two privately-funded museums, Kriseman said, "Those ...Read more

Four Mountain Brook homes featured in annual tour
Village Living, November 25th

Another tour residence includes exposed beams and limestone appointments, reflecting the English arts and crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A fourth residence reflects New England architecture in a rural setting. The Samford ...Read more

Henry Mercer's work of Gothic fiction, 'November Night Tales,' republished ...
Bucks Local News, November 24th

Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930), a native of Doylestown, PA was a noted historian, collector, tile manufacturer antiquarian, artist and writer as well as a leader in the turn-of- the- twentieth century Arts and Crafts movement. Mercer's legacy...Read more

Bungalow Pros/Jo's Moves to Lake Street, November 22nd

“The arts and crafts movement also informs my design influences, so I like surrounding myself with these items, especially since they are much more tactile than using a CAD program to create design drawings,” Kessenich said. “I love design and space ...Read more

Look inside Syracuse home of famed furniture maker Gustav Stickley (photos), November 21st

Syracuse, N.Y. — Strolling through the Syracuse home of famed furniture maker Gustav Stickley feels like escaping back to the beginning of the American Arts and Crafts movement he helped to father. The exterior of the 115-year-old home at 438 Columbus ...Read more

How to Identify a Craftsman-Style Home: The History, Types and Features
Zing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog), November 11th

Craftsman style is a term that falls under the umbrella of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was created as a reaction to the cold and disconnected Industrial Revolution. Arts and Crafts supporters detested mechanized labor that placed an emphasis on ...Read more