Christopher Dresser redux

Though later than William Morris, Christopher Dresser pre-dated the Arts and Crafts movement (see comment, below) in England and was influential in the development of the industrial arts, his designs having been featured in the Crystal Palace Exhibition. His studies in the decorative arts were immensely popular in the period but are only recently coming back into favor with the resurgence of interest in the Arts and Crafts period.

His background in botany is evident in many of his design motifs and that especially appeals to me (as a recovering botanist). Today we would categorize the body of his work variously as Arts and Crafts (though possibly not, as per comment), Art Deco, Japonaise or Aesthetic. He was a product of the Victorian design era but much too “renaissance” to be confined to the period, or to the culture of western Europe/North America. He studied the design traditions of Asia and the Middle East, influencing some of his own design.

Christopher Dresser: Studies in DesignI have started a vector reproduction of Studies in Design with the intention of getting inside of Christopher Dresser’s head a bit. View completed plates here. These are “hand traced” in Adobe Illustrator and are faithful to the original design though repeating pattern designs have been more accurately registered to permit seamless repeat. There are 134 individual motifs. Dresser rendered most in color, and those colors have been used in the vector drawings, however there are several that Dresser only drew as outlines. I am anxious to try different color combinations.


One Response to “Christopher Dresser redux”

  • chris morley Says:

    Dresser was born in the same year as Morris,1834, and published well in advance of any Morris writings on Decorative Art – Art of Decorative Design, 1862; Principles of Decorative Design 1873; Studies in Design 1876. In 1898 The Studio magazine considered Dresser’s Principles contained ‘not a line,scarcely a word that would not be endorsed by the most critical member of the Arts and Crafts Association today.’ At that date Morris had yet to publish any art theory.

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