Friday, March 24, 2006

A Grand New Style-

B.J. Talbert was an extremely influential Mediaevalist designer, "probably," writes Elisabeth Aslin in her study ‘19th Century English Furniture’, "the most influential (designer) of the whole period”.

Apprenticed as a woodcarver in Dundee, Talbert [1838-1881] soon took up the designers' pencil and flourished in his new vocation. In 1867 he moved to London to design for the furniture maker Hollands, who won a medal at the Paris Exhibition that year with a Talbert-designed sideboard.

In that same year Talbert published his work, 'Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metalwork, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes', and its influence was immediate. J. Moyr Smith wrote in his book ‘The Rise of Modern Styles’ that Talbert’s book was “without doubt the cause of the new style of decoration taking hold of the public; for the book soon found its way to the chief designers and cabinet-makers in the kingdom and imitations, which were sometimes improvements, were produced on all sides”.

Talbert himself designed directly for a number of popular furniture makers besides Hollands, but whatever the source, his influence was broad and profound. The text of 'Gothic Forms...' discusses general principles for the design and construction of Gothic-Revival furniture as well as such subjects as metal fittings and inlays. He also essays into the Victorian house, room by room, giving his suggestions for its decoration.

The plates illustrate a variety of cupboards, cabinets, side-boards, tables, bookcases, and chairs, many presented as entire suites of designs for all the pieces he proposes putting in a particular room.

If all this interest you, you are in luck, because we happen to have a copy of the book in our latest "Just Catalogued" list...

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