Decorative Arts specialist, John Mackie, takes a closer look at an archive of work from renowned stained glass designers Shrigley and Hunt. This collection of drawings and tile samples will feature in the next Decorative Arts: Design since 1860 auction on 06 April 2016 in Edinburgh (lots 65 to 91).
Shrigley and Hunt were once ranked among the leading designers and manufacturers of stained glass and art tiles in the UK, rivalling names such as William Morris and Company, and James Powell of Whitefriars. Shrigley and Hunt worked for a period of over 100 years starting in the mid 1870's and examples of their stained glass windows can be seen across Britain and in Europe. Their designs were regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1881-1910, and notably in 1906, William Holman Hunt gave permission to use his The light of the world painting in stained glass.
By 1936, staff had increased to 22 artists and 5 apprentices, and the firm had restored numerous frescos in the Houses of Parliament and the twelve frescos in Manchester Town Hall by Victorian painter Ford Maddox Brown. After the Second World War, Joseph Fisher (1911-1982) joined the firm, becoming director in 1948. Fisher integrated new trends into production throughout the 1950's and 60's by scaling down the firm and employing rising freelance artists. John Blyth (1915-1999), pupil of Herby Hendrie and graduate of Edinburgh School of Art, was the first example of this, followed by Keith New (1926-201) and Harry Harvey (1922-2011).
Fisher and Edward Ellis (1908-c.1980) were the only resident designers and continued to develop their own approach; working within a more scaled back contemporary aesthetic than had been seen before at the firm. The 1970's in particular were a period of more liberated design for Fisher, with progressive and almost abstract projects. Fisher was the final owner of the firm, which closed in 1982 following his death. This archive of designs (and the following group of tiles) has come directly from the Fisher family, with each numbered design dated and grouped according to the original Shrigley and Hunt work book, used throughout the firm's existence.
Literature: Waters, William 'Stained Glass from Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster and London', University of Lancaster, 2003
Decorative Arts: Design since 1860 | 06 April 2016 | Edinburgh
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