Design has dominated Paul Reeves’ life – from collecting as a young man, to becoming an acclaimed clothing designer in the 1960s and early 70s. In early adulthood he turned to interior decorating and then later his current profession as an antiques dealer. Paul’s international reputation as a passionate purveyor of 19th and 20th century furniture, objects, lighting and textiles, has led him to work with significant private collectors, as well as high profile museums and galleries.
The title of this sale references Charles Eastlake’s influential highly influential and polemical book Hints on Household Taste, published in 1868, in which he sought to answer his rhetorical question: “What use is it to decorate the interior of our country-houses if we are to permit ugliness within them?”
He aimed “to encourage a discrimination between good and bad design” by addressing the issues surrounding design and manufacture that had arisen out of the industrial revolution in Britain. The debate about design principles had been started by Pugin, John Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelites, and William Morris, with much of what was on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851 being seen to exemplify poor taste.
The Exhibition acted as a catalyst provoking architects to not just conceive buildings, but also to design furniture for the interiors. This is exactly what Edward Godwin did and William Morris did for his Red House - or rather he invited his close friends to design the furniture.
Eastlake, like his forerunners, considered much contemporary design to be vulgar in form and flimsy in quality. He believed the earlier English and medieval periods offered a superior model where the method of construction was evident and honest, and a hand-made piece more refined than machine manufactured goods. The forms of earlier works were perceived to be more rational and harmonious, with decoration being appropriately kept to a minimal level.
Eastlake’s book was reprinted four times in Britain, but it was also published in the United States in 1872 and reprinted there six times. It provided welcome advice for a middle-class consumer looking for a simpler and more appropriate aesthetic. Besides his written advice Eastlake also published designs which he hoped would be executed by local craftsmen local to the reader. As a result of his influence and reach a wide following emerged which has become known as the Eastlake style or movement that embraced both architecture and objects.
This sale whilst including examples of design by Eastlake, also brought together items by Eastlake’s contemporaries who promoted a similar value system for simplicity and quality design, as well as works by subsequent generations sharing the same passion.
Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts & Design specialists are renowned for both their knowledge and their sales of artworks conducted from London and Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on design from 1860 to the present, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to any successful auction.
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