George Walton was born in Glasgow on 3 June 1867, the youngest of twelve children. The painter, Edward Arthur Walton, born in 1860, was his elder brother and the flower painter, Constance Walton, his sister. His father died in 1873 leaving the family in reduced circumstances and Walton had to leave school aged thirteen to become a clerk with the British Linen Bank, but while working there he also studied at Glasgow School of Art (as the School of Design had become in 1869).
In 1888 Miss Catherine Cranston commissioned Walton to re-design the interiors of the tea rooms at 114 Argyle Street, Glasgow. Walton gave up banking and opened showrooms entitled George Walton & Co, Ecclesiastical and House Decorators, at 152 Wellington Street. The Walton firm quickly expanded into woodwork, furniture making and stained glass. In 1896 Walton received a further commission from Miss Cranston to decorate the Buchanan Street premises. His collaborator was C. R. Mackintosh, for whom Walton made some early pieces of furniture. In 1897 Walton moved to London and, as well as retaining his Glasgow showroom, opened a branch in York.
This chair was made for Miss Cranston's new tearoom in Buchanan Street in Glasgow in 1896. This scarce chair, with its tall, curved back echoing the stencilled wall decoration and the hand-painted floral sprigs following the colour scheme of the walls. The tall vertical form of the chair continues the 'Glasgow Style' aesthetic whilst the Regency inspiration which the design subverts is still evident, particularly on the matching armchairs with their lower backs. Other versions of this chair were used by Walton in schemes throughout his career, but the Buchanan Street chairs are marked out by their painted decoration.
This wardrobe demonstrates all of the characteristics of the furniture produced for Elm Bank, York by Walton & Co. in 1898 for Sydney Leetham. The furniture is inlaid with bold geometric chevron banding, a type of decoration that had been revived and popularised by George Jack at Morris & Co., however, the use of this technique at Elm Bank was altogether bolder and more expansive. This bedroom suite also demonstrates stained glass detailing derived from plant forms, with metal and wood also inset, relating to techniques being produced by Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the same time.
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