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    

Gorgeous Art Nouveau Bronze Glass And Jewell Vase Kralik Loetz Etc Arts CraftsAntique Art Nouveau Arts And Crafts Liberty Knox Oak Pewter And Ruskin ClockFine Early 1900 English Arts & Crafts Saint Etheldreda Antique Oil PaintingAntique Gustav Stickley Oak Tabouret Table With Maker's Label 1906 -1908Antique Arts Craft Deco Hammered Copper Racehorse Jockeys Asrchitectural AccentsAntique Arts & Crafts Mission Oak Round Lamp Table Gustav Or L&jg StickleyBradley Hubbard Arts Crafts Mission Slag Glass Handel Era Antique Lamp NrArts And Crafts Mission Style Matte Green VasePairpoint Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Art Nouveau Victorian Antique Lamp NrTiffany Furnaces Studios Arts Crafts Antique Bronze Lamp Base Handel Era NrAntique Newcomb Macklin Frame, Gold Leaf Impressionist, 20 X 16"Wilkinson Leaded Slag Glass Arts Crafts Mission Handel Bradley Hubbard Era LampSuperb Liberty & Co Solid Sterling Silver Circular Mustard Pot Birmingham 1909.Antique Arts & Crafts Keswick School Of Industrial Arts Copper Tray Ksia Vintage Catalina Parrot Style Tile Topped California Mission Arts & Crafts TableOriginal Arts & Crafts Copper Repousse Peacock Tray Yattendon FivemiletownArts And Crafts Mission Style Matte Green VaseBradley Hubbard Arts Crafts Leaded Slag Glass Antique Handel Era Lamp NrMotawi Tileworks Arts And Crafts Art Nouveau Tile 4x8 Iris In IndigoBradley Hubbard Leaded Slag Glass Arts Crafts Handel Era Lamp NrAntique Original William De Morgan Pottery Tile - Arts And CraftsPair Of Most Unusual Art Nouveau Brass / Bronze Candlesticks - Extremely Rare Antique Teco Arts And Crafts Squat Vase In Cucumber Green Glaze SignedRare Antique Very Large Handpainted French Enamel Button Pre-raphaelite NrSuperb Arts Crafts Nouveau Ceiling Light Fixture Opalescent Vaseline Glass ShadeDoor Pottery Scott Draves Arts And Crafts Grueby Style Studio VaseBeautiful Original Arts And Crafts Wmf Copper Tray With Stylized Vines DesignBeautiful Original 19th Century William Morris & Co Velvet, Cherwell 1887Teco Pottery Vase In Matte Green, Arts And Crafts Gorgeous Arts Crafts Art Deco Hand Glazed Lamp Light Fixture Shade C1925Rare Arts & Crafts Deco Era Brass Garden Lamp Light Wall Fixture C1920Rare Dlrk Van Erp Of San Francisco Hammered Copper Arts & Crafts Charger TrayAntique Heintz Bronze Sterling Arts & Crafts Boudoir Lamp Art NouveauOld 1931 Monticello Roseville 4" Vase Arts&crafts Mission Look- Fine Shape-Small Antique Newlyn Hand Made Copper Tray - Galleon PatternOriginal Art Nouveau Liberty & Co Tudric Pewter Knox Dish 01286Huge Ruskin Pottery Lavender Lustre Footed Bowl Arts And Crafts 1924 1920's Mission Style Solid Brass Arts And Crafts Wall Sconce Light Fixture AaacWeller Burntwood Claywood Candlesticks Arts & Crafts Art PotteryAntique Roseville Carnelian Arts & Crafts Pottery Vase Archibald Knox Miniature Pewter Photograph FrameAntique Lot Of 3 Lamps For Parts Or Repair- Handel Lamp,bradley Hubbard,unknownVintage Pair Of Roseville Pottery Rosecraft Hexagon Arts And Crafts Vases 269-6 Large 12" Roseville Early Carnelian Vase - Matte Green - Arts & CraftsRare American Arts Crafts San Jose Art Pottery Tile Roping Cowboy Texas Big 7.8"Rare! Beautiful Arts & Crafts Matte Finish Jardiniere And PedestalAn Antique 'tudric' Pewter Box. Archibald Knox For Liberty & Co.Vintage 4.75" Rookwood Arts & Crafts Blue Deco Pattern Vase #6473 Xxxiv 1934 Nr!Arts & Crafts Pewter Box Enamel Lid The Lid Is Been Signed ( Scottish??? )Door Pottery Scott Draves Arts And Crafts Grueby Style Studio VaseShreve & Co Sterling Silver Arts & Crafts Pastry Server Fourteenth Century 1912Roseville Pottery Imperial Ii Banded Vase - Ruby Red With Turquoise Drip Glaze6p Finest Antique 1920's Japanese Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Sake Tea Cup Set8 3/4” Heintz ? Hanging Vine Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver & Bronze VaseAntique Heintz Metal Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Bronze Double Handle Vase YqzVintage 6" Rookwood Arts & Crafts Brown Deco 3 Leg Legged Bowl #1632 Xi 1911 Nr!1930s Fulper~ L.v.aronson Ronson Deco Dog Ashtray W/ Original Pottery InsertAntique 1910s New Haven Mission Style Arts&crafts Oak Clock All Original As-is!C1926 Rookwood Sally Coyne Matte Finish Lotus Arts & Crafts Vase JapanesqueDoor Pottery Scott Draves Arts And Crafts Seg Style Tree Scene Studio Vase

Recent News: Arts and Crafts Era

Source: Google News

Cummer exhibit examines pottery's role in women's status
Florida Times-Union, October 9th

The early Newcomb pottery was largely influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, Keris said. The forms of Southern landscape, such as magnolia, crepe myrtle and Spanish moss, could be ...Read more

ART PREVIEW: Looking back at Arts and Crafts through pottery
Diamondback Online, October 8th

“We have this really wonderful collection of hundreds and hundreds of pieces of art pottery and glass made in the U.S. … in the height of the Arts and Crafts movement,” said Bonnie Campbell Lilienfeld, the museum's assistant director of curatorial...Read more

Fun with flocks at River Gallery
Cascadia Weekly, October 6th

His handcrafted cedar boxes and small “coffins” derive from coastal tribes' traditional containers, seen through the lens of Giovane's fascination with Celtic art, the American Arts and Crafts movement, British Art Nouveau design and—get this...Read more

Pier approach project narrows field of architects to five (blog), October 6th

The committee also kept Alfonso Architects of Tampa, which is designing the city's $70 million American Arts and Crafts Movement Museum. The seven-member committee, made up of city staff and civic leaders, will meet again on Oct. 16 to rank the five ...Read more

Tompkins Rygole's Woodridge house evokes Arts and Crafts architecture with ...
Dezeen, October 4th

There seems to be a confusion in this article between "vernacular" and "arts and crafts". I, personally, don't see any reference to the arts and crafts movement in this house – a movement that loved ornamentation. A flemish bond isn't very unique – it...Read more

Arts and Crafts silverware set to go up for auction in Derbyshire
Derby Telegraph, September 27th

Silversmiths Omar Ramsden and Alwyn Carr are two of the most iconic designers and makers of the Arts and Crafts movement. Omar Ramsden was born in Sheffield in 1873 as the Arts and Crafts movement was emerging in England. He was originally in ...Read more

Home Guru: The Appealing Features of the Arts and Crafts Style House
The Examiner News, September 23rd

The Arts and Crafts movement evolved around the turn of the 20th century as a backlash against the fussy style of the Victorian era, instead subscribing to a more natural aesthetic and traditional craftsmanship. While Testa's house is modest on the...Read more

'Arts and crafts' sideboard takes up residence in Museum (press release), September 17th

Ancient legends and medieval tales were a key influence in the Arts and Crafts Movement. Jessie carved her sideboard with a sea wyvern (part serpent, with dragon wings and lots of tails instead of feet) and a close look reveals a heraldic dolphin which...Read more