Style Neo-gothic / Ref.12947
JOHN MOYR SMITH FOR COX & SONS (attributed to), A rare and exceptional stained glass fire screen, circa 1875
Width: 48'' ⅞ 124cm
Height: 42'' ⅛ 107cm
Depth: 17'' ⅜ 44cm
England, 19th century.
This fire screen depicts a shape and a decoration very typical of the English Gothic Revival taste from the end of the 19th century.
Gathering several figurative stained glasses put together in a wood mount laying on two feet, this exceptionnal fire screen is composed of three mobile panels. Three middle sized stained glasses are detaching themselve on a background composed of small square stained glasses highlighted with yellow, depicting plants and animals in a jovial and funny way, such as the frog, the fish and the bird. A portait of Shakespeare is depicting in a medalion of the central panel, while we discover medieval scenes on the two lateral panels, an archer with his bow, and a soldier shooting with a canon.
The decoration of these stained glasses and especially the jovial animals and Neo-Gothic figures, is characteristic of John Moyr Smith's hand, considered as one of the most talented draughtman of the end of the Victorian period. Born in Scottland in 1839, he studies architecture in Glasgow at the end of the 1850's with James Salmon (1805-1888), one of the founder of the Glassgow Architectural Society (GAS) with Alexander Thomson (1817-1875) by whom he has been strongly influenced.
He becomes president of the Glasgow Architectural (Assistant's) Association (GA(A)A), before leaving the Scottish capitale for Manchester in 1864 where he decides to study mainly gothic. It's during his years in Manchester that he made a serie of illustrations about McBeth which will not be published before 1889.
In 1867, already established as a talented draughtman and outstanding figurative artist, he abandons the architecture and move to London where he starts to work with and for Christopher Dresser. Already in possession of his own distinctive style, Shakespearean and mythical, one consider that many decoration on the Minton production of this period could be attributed to him.
In the 1870's, the furniture design becomes a priority and we still feel the influence of Alexander Thomson. He especially draws some models for the furniture firm Cox & Sons of which the production is very marked by the Gothic Revival, the Aesthetic and Art & Crafts movements. It used to order models for furniture, stained glass and ceramic to leading designers from the end of the 19th century, such as Bruce Talber, Godwin, Moyr Smith.
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