Friday, June 2, 2017

Archibold Knox: Art Nouveau Jewelry

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox 

Archibald Knox (1864- 1933) was born on the Isle of Man. He studied at the Douglas School of Art with an emphasis on Celtic ornamentation

In 1897, he began working on designs for still existing department store Liberty & Co. of London that, since 1880, produced Arts and Crafts-style furniture following the new concept of the renaissance of applied arts initiaded by William Morris

In 1899 the first handmade "Cymric" (pronounced "Koomric") silver pieces were starting to be produced -- many designed by Knox. All those items were decorated by interlaced symbols, curves, stylized plant or flowers, and symmetric ornaments. Thorough those years, the names "Liberty" and "Art Nouveau" became synonymous. 

In 1900 Archibal Knox returned to the Isle of Man except for a period in 1912, when Knox ceased to work for Liberty's and went to America where he designed carpets for Bromley & Co of Philadelphia.

A description of Knox's new Celtic range from a Liberty & Co. catalogue of 1899-1900 shows how keen Arthur Liberty was to promote his work:

"The especially interesting feature is its complete and unmistakable differentiation from all other descriptions of modern silverwork. The suggestion, as it were, having its origin in the work of a far earlier period than the greater part of the gold and siler plate ornaments to be found even in the Royal Collections today, the bulk of which only dates back to the Restoration. Cymric silver, although original and initiatory of a new school of work, is suggestive of a more remote era than this, and simplicity is the keynote of its design"

In 1902, Knox also designed some of famous Liberty's "Tudric" pewter series, very similar to the Jugendstil pewterware made in Germany. 

Many of the designers used by Liberty & Co. were key figures in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. These figures included Lindsay P. Butterfield, a leading figure in textiles, and Archibald Knox, a fine designer in all areas of art. Arthur Liberty was instrumental in the development of Art Nouveau through his encouragement of such designers. He proceeded to make the store one of the most prestigious and profitable in London

Many objects were certainly designed by "Archibald Knox," however the name of Archibald Knox does not appear on any of the objects that he designed for Liberty, as this was not the company's practice. Most of their records were destroyed in the London blitz of WW II and, because of this, many items are 'attributed to Archibald Knox,' however it is agreed by devotees of Knox's work that his mark of genius is unmistakable. 

The works of Archibald Knox were inspired by Celtic ornamental details, which became English Art Nouveau trademarks. He designed elegant vases, candelabra, chalices, boxes, and baskets, as well as clocks made in silver and pewter. They were shaped into innovative forms, with functional lines and harmonious contours and some were enhanced by enamels or blue-green polished stones or semi-precious stone cabochons.

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