Home Back

[Decorative Art: Galleries]

We have already reviewed the more remarkable of the pictures and sculpture at the spacious European Galleries. It is to be regretted that comparatively few English designers of mark have been brought to light by an exhibition projected primarily for their benefit. However, among the designs is one for a piano-case, carried out by Mr. Fox for Mr. Alma Tadema, which is probably the most original work of the kind that has been executed. Photography in some of its decorative applications is illustrated by the Imperial Photographic Company of Baker-street, and a lifesize bust-portrait, exhibited by this company, of our genial and esteemed contributor Mr. Sala, is an admirable example of coloured photography. The numerous pictorial and ornamental paintings on porcelain and pottery (including two noble plates by Mr. Moody, the head of the decorative department at the South Kensington National School) and on screens, tapestry, and other panels, &c., attain a very respectable level of merit. A floral painted screen by Miss Spooner, another by Mr. Stoney, and one with peacocks, especially deserve mention. The tiles exhibited by Messrs. Maw, Page Turner, Day, Kelly, Millar and Little, and others, are excellent. There is some very fine carving in a cabinet and cartel by Gueret, of Paris, and in two cabinets copied from ancient examples in French museums. A very elaborately carved suite of Chinese furniture, consisting of a bedstead, cabinets, encoignures, table, &c., the whole most ingeniously morticed together without screws or nails, is one of the most curious attractions of the exhibition—to say nothing of a varied collection of Japanese and Indian productions. Among the wall decorations shown are richly decorated "Lincrustra Walton"—so valuable for its durability, and as being damp-proof—and beautiful papers by Messrs. Jeffrey and Co. and Woollams, as also French and Japanese papers. Art curtains likewise form a feature of the display, and some are of charming design or novel material. There are other novelties not readily to be found, at least united, elsewhere. Of these we may name enamelled glass from ancient examples, the Limoges enamels of various subjects and applications, the Palissy ware (honestly signed by their producer, M. Pull, to prevent their being passed off as original works by Bernard himself), Italian majolica by the Marchese Ginori; Henri II. ware (the secret of which was discovered a few years back); Capo di Monte china; repoussée metal-work by Arens of Antwerp, and a very hard German stoneware, handsomely decorated in various ways, exhibited by the Keramic Goods Company. The colours in this ware, as shown in broken samples, are actually inlaid, and therefore more durable, than in similar English manufactures. The arts of house decoration and furnishing are, in short, illustrated from widely different sources; and for the agency in these matters which the Direction of the galleries undertakes, it should, from its extensive relations with designers, decorators, and manufacturers, be in the best position to carry out. The contents of the exhibition are, we understand, to be changed at comparatively short intervals, but in detail, so as to allow of the galleries being kept open continuously. The exhibition is calculated to remove some of our insular prejudices in taste; and certainly deserves the success which it seems to have attained.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2258—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, August 12, 1882, p.175

Decorative Arts:—
Part 1: Exhibitions of Decorative Art
Part 3: Art Furnishers' Alliance
Part 4: Suffolk Street galleries