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Mackmurdo chair 1881

Page history last edited by Anna 11 years, 6 months ago

Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (12 Dec 1851-15 March 1942) was a British architect, designer, and social reformer who influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement. His unique design of The Century Guild Dining Chair is thought to be the first manifestation of Art Nouveau.[1]


Mackmurdo was born in London and studied architecture at Oxford. He traveled to France and Italy with John Ruskin, and was greatly influence by Italian Renaissance.  His objection of church renovations in Florence created a discord with local authorities that made it impossible for him to stay. Reluctantly he returned to England. In 1877 he supported the founding of William Morris' Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.


In 1882 he and colleagues Selwyn Image and Herbert Horne founded the Century Guild[2], with the intention of bringing fine arts and crafts together. The Guild encouraged members to include themselves in the entire creative process, previously fractioned by the Industrial Revolution, and return to the high standards and quality of non-mechanized production. Members of the Guild included artist Heywood Sumner, the potter William de Morgan, the enameller Clement Heaton, and Benjamin Creswick.[3] Contributors for Century Guild's printed magazine, "The Hobby Horse" included; Oscar Wilde and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Bell Scott and Ford Madox Brown.


The Century Guild Dining Chair was designed by Mackmurdo in 1881. Handcrafted from mahogany and leather by Collinson & Lock Co. The asymmetrical tendril motif on the splat of an otherwise simple English chair had never been seen before. It linked the Arts and Crafts movement with Art Nouveau, which began a decade later.


Web Referance


[1] http://www.framemuseums.org










Book Referance


The Art of Ford Madox Brown

 By Kenneth Bendiner


The Art Nouveau Style: A Comprehensive Guide with 264 Illustrations

 By Stephan Tschudi-Madsen


Symbolist Art Theories: A Critical Anthology

 By Henri Dorra


Comments (9)

Oliver Browne said

at 8:05 pm on Oct 8, 2009

I love these art nouveau designs, especially since they're revival in the "trippy" 60's and 70's. The back of that chair would entertain a hippy for days!

Marianela Ramos Capelo said

at 10:40 pm on Oct 8, 2009

OMG (and i know "OMG" isn't a correct expression for this type of exercise) this chair reminds me of the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley in Oscar Wilde's books! around the same period. =) art noveau??? arts & crafts movement. Reject industrialism and get you hands dirty. cheers!

Susan Efting said

at 12:22 pm on Oct 9, 2009

May or may not help, but I found this chronology of the Arts & Crafts movement.
For an Arts and Crafts chronology: http://www.achome.co.uk/chronology/chronology.htm

Kirsten Larsen said

at 4:01 pm on Oct 9, 2009

a design that stands the test of time :)

Itzel said

at 3:25 pm on Oct 11, 2009

According to the wiki page about art nouveau "... Arthur Mackmurdo's book-cover for Wren's City Churches (1883), with its rhythmic floral patterns, is often considered the first realization of Art Nouveau" *Duncan, Alastair. Art Nouveau. World of Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1994. ISBN 0500202737: 10–13. cited on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_noveau#cite_note-duncan10-25.

You can see the book cover image here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MackmurdoWren1883.gif. Comparing the two objects it is noticeable the enormous resemblance between them. The flowers are the same, the undulating shapes are so similar in its use of the positive & negative space, and even the flow of the lines follows the same direction than in the chair.

However the chronology of both objects indicates the Mackmurdo chair was first. So it is not clear which one of them was the first manifestation on this movement because the book cited by the author of the wiki article seems a trustable source, but maybe we'll have to go and double check it to see if he/she didn't misunderstand the information.

Susan Efting said

at 7:30 am on Oct 12, 2009

Hi Anna. I've been plugging away on my wiki (Koloman Moser) and was sure I'd find some link to yours, but nothing yet. The Century Guild he founded in 1882 seemed to share some of the ideals of the Vienna Secession that Moser cofounded in 1897, but that's quite a gap in time. I'll let you know if I can find anything more concrete.

CLO said

at 8:32 pm on Oct 12, 2009

Not sure if they have to know each other to make a connection, just the movement maybe? The Industrial Revolution ties most the artists and craftsmen in the 20-Century, with what was going on at the time in Europe with mass-produced decorative arts. It changed handcrafted metalwork, jewelry, wallpaper, textiles, furniture, and books.

Basically it came down to the Arts and Crafts Movement was old school and not practical in the "modern world." By the progressives of Industrial Design Movement.

CLO said

at 8:40 pm on Oct 12, 2009

Mackmurdo helped organize the Century Guild for craftsmen. These men revived the art of hand printing. That is how thy are connected.

Michelle Russell said

at 12:03 am on Oct 13, 2009

He influenced the Arts and Craft movement and the Arts and Craft movement played a part in the transition of the magazine from simply a soft covered book format to the modern magazine design.

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