Archive for the Henry Cole Category

False Principles of Design, a reaction to the Great Exhibition

Posted in 1851 Great Exhibition, False Principles of Design/1853, Henry Cole, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, wallpaper on June 30, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As well intentioned as the Great Exhibition of 1851 may have been, vulgarity always reins supreme.

I happen to love vulgarity, particularly if it has gathered dust and crackled varnish over the last 160 years.

Poor Mr. Cole was having a fit at the “False Principles” being peddled as “Design” at his wonderful showcase, the Great Exhibition. He was so peeved that he organized another exhibition in 1853 , the “False Principles of Design”, held at the Museum of Ornamental Art.

The following must have been particularly galling to Mr. Cole.

False Principle #28

Perspective Representation of the Crystal Palace

Heywood, Higginbottom & Smith

1853-1855

V&A

I imagine seeing his beloved Crystal Palace, exploited in such a shameless fashion was a great irritant; that it went against his Reform principles, just added insult. How marvelous that he was able to stage an exhibit to showcase his indignation. How often I have wished for such an opportunity.

False Principle #28 follows, I love  how scientific that sounds, we’re talking about wallpaper, not an airborne disease!

False Principle # 27

Potters of Darwen

1853

V&A

Apparently what really rubbed Mr. Cole the wrong way was the illusion of three dimensions. Eastlake, Morris, Dresser, all felt the same. I believe it is a “false principle” simply because it is so ugly. I have difficulty understanding railroad stations as an ornamental motif. To toss aside realistic representation in the ornamental arts seems unrealistic, narrow minded, and ignorant of design history. The 18th century is rich in fully rendered ornament, carpets, wall panels, and porcelain, just a small example.I understand the Reformers rejected much of 18th century art and design, I just don’t understand why, had the beauty not been apparent?

Wallpaper

David Walker, manufacturer

1895

Although not an example of a False Principle as the late date will show, but clearly the false principles flourished. The dimensional allusion is apparent, I imagine it was a popular paper, it is pretty in it’s fussy dark way.

wallpaper commemorating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

F. Scott & Son

1887

V&A

I feel strongly that this would have been deemed a False Principle, patriotism and love of your Queen aside.

I love it, can’t imagine the repeat,but I love it.

I’m always a sucker for allegory, in this instance allegories of Australia, India, Canada, and the Cape Colonies.

wallpaper

Heywood, Higginbottom & Smith

1870-1880

V&A

Again, not part of the exhibit, but the same manufacturer of False Principle # 28, was up to the same illusionary tricks.

Now, this is just ugly.

I’m with Messrs Cole, Morris, Dresser, Eastlake, et al. Ugly , butch crap.

The following isn’t ugly, it’s also a bit effete.

Wallpaper frieze

Color chiaroscuro print from wood blocks with machine printed background.

Jeffrey & Company

1851

This was NOT in the False Principals exhibit. It IS equestrian,, and it is beautiful. It is also ‘trompe l’oeil’, and it appears that it was shown at the Great Exhibition , with no evident criticism from Cole . I guess because it is attempting to capture the grandeur of the Elgin Marbles , Mr. Cole felt it passed muster.

Love the yellow.

Back to ugly:

Wallcovering

late 19th century

unknown

machine printed on laminated paper

I think it is safe to say that Mr. Cole would not approve.

I don’t approve, particularly given the fact that “nudie-girl’ paper needs to be on washable laminated paper. The insinution so apparent, so awful, so unsanitary.

Must confess to lusting after a similar reproduction paper in the 70’s of my youth, Mother said no.

All in all we owe a note of thanks to both Henry Cole and the Prince.

Thank you boys.

BTW, we also owe Mr. Cole a thanks for the first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, 1840,

and the first Christmas card, 1843

You just have to love the fellow.

So worried about our aesthetic welfare.

Good night.

Advertisements

The Great Exhibition 1851

Posted in 1851 Great Exhibition, 19th cent., Crystal Palace, furniture, Henry Cole, Prince Albert, Pugin, Queen Victoria on June 24, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Last weeks post featured a really magnificent sideboard that had been presented at the Great Exhibition of 1851, I felt the Exhibition itself was worth exploring.

This title plate from the souvenir folio “Recollections of the Great Exhibition, 1850, London, Lloyd Bros. & Comp., Sept 1st 1851”, expresses the international participation that Prince Albert had hoped for when planning the exhibition with Henry Cole and  fellow reformers.

(The dome is from Coalbrookdale, the statue of Wm. Shakespeare by John Bell.)

The influence of the Great Exhibition was significant, setting off a chain of similar design exhibits. This focus on design, with it’s lofty intentions of raising aesthetic standards, is so rare in our present society, the focus being profit. The luxury of building the Crystal Palace to showcase goods, often as banal as fire grates, is almost  incomprehensible .

As much as I may admire the intention, their were contemporary  critics who felt differently, Pugin called the Crystal Palace a “glass monster”, Carlyle derided it as a “big glass bubble”; and the influential Ruskin dismissed it as a “conservatory”. The above plate of this controversial structure was by G. Baxter

The following plates are from the “Recollections” folio.

Plate 10, Furniture Court #1 (by Wilson)

Ecclesiastical and Civil

Plate #12

Part of the Birmingham Court (by H.C.Pidgeon)

Plate # 15

Part of the China Court (by J. Absolon)

Plate #20

Turkish Hall

It would be ridiculous not to include some of the fancy goods set out to entice and bewitch a design hungry crowd. Some lovely, some vulgar, all from my perspective, beguiling.

Sideboard by Gutta Percha Company

I love the over florid “naturalistic” ornament, seems unlikely that they were able to carve so many tendrils, I imagine it was flattened in construction.

Viennese Flower Vase by Johan Gaster

Gothic metal stove

by Augustus Welby Pugin, manufacturer John Hardmon & Comp.

I guess Pugin  got over his disgust and decided to peddle his wares in the “glass monster’ after all.

Heating Stove in the form of a suit of armor.

Really it doesn’t get better then this.

This is the reason critics lampoon the 19th century, and why anachronistic old farts like myself adore it.

Another bit of Great Exhibition ephemera, “Lane’s Telescopic View of the Ceremony of Her Majesty Opening the Great Exhibition of All Nations”, designed by Rawlins, London, August 15th 1851

With that , thank you your Majesty.

Queen Victoria

ca. 1842

by Franz Xavier Winterhalter

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the Bal Costume of May 12th 1842

1842

dressed as Edward III (1315-1377) and Queen Philippa (1314-13690)

Good night

by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer ( 1802-1873, London)