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    

Antique Copper Arts Crafts Nouveau Picture Photo Portrait Frame C1910Antique Arts & Crafts Hammered Copper & Brass Cigar Humidor Box + Silver RivetsLarge Antique American Arts & Crafts Newcomb Macklin 30x36 Oil Painting FrameSilver Liberty & Co Photo Frame With Turquoise Cabochon: Birmingham 1905Antique Handel Boudoir Lamp Arts & Crafts Stickley Era, Circa 1910Mission Era Oak Table Lamp Green Slag Glass Shade, Arts & Crafts Wood Electric Handel Arts Crafts Slag Glass Mission Bradley Hubbard Era Antique Lamp NrArts&crafts,nouveau,deco Double Signed Handel Tropical Sunset Slag Glass Lamp19thc Antique American Oil Painting Landscape Farmers Oxen Teams Plowing LandEarly 20th Century Roycroft Arts & Crafts Period Hammered Copper Bowl- Nr!Pittsburg Reverse Painted Arts CraftsArts & Crafts Ruskin Pottery Vase British Art Pottery William Howson Taylor Antique Arts & Crafts Stained Glass Birds & Butterfly PanelAntique Maxfield Parrish 1923 Edison Mazda Calendar Print Lamp Seller Of Bagdad Antique Arts & Crafts Fabulous Gesso Wooden Trinket Box Polychrome Painted RareVtg Paul Revere Pottery Vase Arts Crafts Saturday Evening Girls Flowers TulipGenuine Arts & Crafts Large Brass Double Candle Sconce - Alexander Ritchie ?rareAntique Trench Art Brass And Hardwood Ww1 Lewis Gun +ammo/tool Box.Antique Slag Glass Arts Crafts Victorian Bradley Hubbard Era Slag Glass Lamp NrBradley Hubbard Reverse Painted Arts Crafts Slag Glass Handel Era Antique Lamp*no Reserve Pair Antique Gothic Tudor Spanish Mission Arts & Crafts Iron SconcesReverse Painted Arts Crafts Bradley Hubbard Handel Era Antique Lamp NrImportant Wmf Secessionist Arts & Crafts Copper & Enamel Vase Jugendstil NouveauBeautiful Arts And Crafts Pewter Vase Stylised Leaf And Vine Design Makers StampChicago Mosaic Leaded Glass Lamp,tiffany,handel,pairpoint , Era 1915,signedArts & Crafts Hand Embroidered Picture Panel Superb Garden Flowers 20" X 23" Matte Green Arts & Crafts / Mission 5" Pottery Vase Tree Motif Signed ~ Rw ?Antique Pittsburgh Table Lamp 15" Green Chipped Ice Shade Handel Era-ex! Nr!Zanesville Pottery 8" Matte Green Tobacco Leaf Vase Mission Arts And CraftsRare Arts&crafts,nouveau,deco Tiffany/riviera Studios Grapevine Slag Glass LampRoycroft Footed Tray - Hammered Copper - Arts&crafts/stickley/mission EraArts & Crafts Hammered Copper Box With Blue Green Enamelling & Raised InsectRare Lebolt Chicago Arts & Crafts Hammered Sterling Silver Serving Tray Nr TweRare Large Antique Arts Crafts Copper Brass Coal Cauldron William Soutter & SonRare Large Antique Arts Crafts Brass Planter William Soutter & Son Signed Piece Small Antique Maxfield Parrish Dreaming Chromolithograph Print, Original FrameStickley Telephone TableRare Superb V Large Antique True Arts Crafts Glasgow School Brass Coal ScuttleAntique Arts Crafts Work Box Casket Deep Carved All Over Wooden Pretty C1910 Original English Arts & Crafts Art Nouveau Silver Photo Frame Hallmarked 1903Huge Antique Newcomb Macklin Arts & Crafts Gold Leaf Impressionistic Frame,excnrRoycroft Arts & Crafts Period Hand Hammered Copper Napkin Ring - Stickley EraZanesville Arts And Crafts Matte Green Pottery Stoneware Vase Awesome Mint MarkWilkinson Leaded Slag Glass Arts Crafts Tiffany Studios Handel Era Antique LampBeautiful Pair Of Arts And Crafts Candlesticks Benson Style Wrought Iron Copper5p Finest Antique 1920's Japanese Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Sake Tea Cup SetVintage Large All Brass Mission, Arts & Crafts Chandelier, Dated Feb. 3, 1904C1930s Arts & Crafts Cellini Craft Sterling Silver Footed Bowl Hand Hammered NrOriginal Leather Bound William Morris Arts And Crafts Movement Book 1894Original Copper Art Nouveau/arts & Crafts Door Finger Plates With Reg. NumberHandel Arts Crafts Leaded Slag Glass Bradley Hubbard Era Lamp Antique Lamp NrAntique Mission Oak Arts And Crafts Hanging Light Lamp Shade Slag Glass ProjectOverbeck Pottery Clown Holding Baby Clown Figurine Arts & Crafts Indiana Cute NrArt Nouveau Tudric Pewter Bowl For Liberty & Co 0287 Archibald Knox DesignCopper Arts & Crafts Antique Gravy Sauce Boat Jug Primitive Hand Beaten NouveauVery Rare Van Briggle Arts & Crafts Lorelei Nude Blue Vase Signed S Matte GlazeOld Original Limbert Furniture Arts & Crafts Folding Sales Brochure Catalog BookStickley Dining Table - All Original - No Reserve1900s Tiffany Studios Bronze (calling Card) Textured Compote No. 1726Wm. B. Meyers Hand Wrought Arts & Crafts Hammered Sterling Cream & Sugar Set

Recent News: Arts and Crafts Era

Source: Google News

Around Winchester
Wicked Local Winchester, October 29th

16, at 3 p.m. at BookEnds, 559 Main St. This book offers the first full-scale examination of the architecture associated with the arts and crafts movement that spread throughout New England at the turn of the 20th century. Included in the book are...Read more

Southern U.S. pottery on exhibit in Santa Fe
Albuquerque Journal, October 25th

Determined to revive the old forms, they hired potters during the height of the Arts and Crafts movement. The couple pushed toward more decorative work, encouraging their artists to visit museums. Ben Owen discovered Chinese pottery and began producing ...Read more

Evanston History Center hosts lecture on jewelry shop
Daily Northwestern, October 16th

The Evanston History Center hosted a lecture Thursday on a 20th-century Evanston jewelry shop and its relation to the arts and crafts movement. Curator Mary McWilliams came as a part of the center's “Under the Buffalo” presentation series, which is in ...Read more

National Portrait Gallery shines light on William Morris
BBC News, October 16th

The influence of artist-craftsman William Morris on 20th Century life, and his concept of "art for the people", are being explored in a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Morris is known for leading the Arts and Crafts movement...Read more

Gorgeous Arts and Crafts homes that Effie Gray would have loved
Telegraph.co.uk, October 12th

He gave us the Arts and Crafts movement and so many wonderful houses full of light and decoration. Ruskin might have struggled to appreciate the female body, but as a naturalist he had a huge appreciation of the wild. As an art and architectural critic...Read more

Art in Kayenta provides weekend of artistry, entertainment, spirits
Dixie Press Online, October 10th

Wood craftsman, Dennis Bertucci from Boulder, Utah has been restoring Arts and Crafts style furniture for 25 years and also designs and builds his own furniture inspired by pioneers in the Arts and Crafts movement namely Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd...Read more

Pasadena Heritage's Craftsman Weekend is steeped in history
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, October 9th

Their philosophy led to the Arts and Crafts movement, a push for handcrafted objects with simple designs and an emphasis on the quality of materials and workmanship. The trend spread from England to Europe and on to America, where it remained popular ...Read more

At Home With Vivian: Sturdy as the day it was made
Martinez News-Gazette, October 7th

The Arts and Crafts movement was started by a group of college friends in the 1850s in England in response to the Industrial Revolution. The market had been flooded with inexpensive, machine made, shoddy copies of elaborate designs. The common ...Read more