The Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition – The Cult of Beauty

Kawphyrite VaseThis exhibition, to be held 2 April -17 July 2011, will be arranged in four main chronological sections, charting the development of the Aesthetic Movement in art and design through the decades from the 1860s to the 1890s. As well as paintings, prints and drawings, the show will include examples of all the ‘artistic’ decorative arts, together with drawings, designs, photographs, portraits, fashionable dress and jewellery of the era.

Pictured: Kawphyrite Vase

Literary life will be represented by some of the most beautiful books of the day, whilst a number of set-pieces will reveal the visual world of the Aesthetes, evoking the kind of rooms and ensembles of exquisite objects through which they expressed their sensibilities.

One of the most important examples of the mutual influence between artists and designers is to be found in the startling collaborations between James McNeill Whistler and the architect E.W.Godwin who designed the painter’s studio, The White House, and created some of the most innovative furniture of the day. Characterised equally by elegance and eccentricity, Whistler and Godwin’s work drew upon influences as diverse as ancient Greek art and the Japanese prints and other artefacts just beginning to arrive in Europe.

Albion VasePictured: Albion Vase

Dennis Chinaworks are making four designs, in limited editions, inspired by the work of the Aesthetic Movement, associated with museum objects in the Exhibition. Sally Tuffin has worked closely with Susan Mouncey of V&A Enterprises to produce these pots which are decorated by Heidi Warr and Adam White and offered for sale in the Museum shop. The pieces are:

Egyptian Vase

Inspired by ‘Egyptian’ frieze, an E. W. Godwin wallpaper design of 1877. Incised and coloured as fashionable aesthetic furniture of the period – ebonised and with gold lustre details. 32.5cm. An edition of 10.

Albion Vase

Albion – a bird and leaf design inspired by a wallpaper of T. W. Sharp for Jeffrey & Co, circa 1882, the vase with slip trailed outlines. 21cm. An edition of 10.

Trellis Vase

Trellis – a Japanese inspired wallpaper design by E. W. Godwin, the vase with the iconic Godwin ebonised table design of 1867 superimposed – the extended rim representing the table top, and gold lustre around the base. 24cm. An edition of 10.

Kawphyrite Vase

Kawphyrite – a close interpretation of E. W. Godwin’s rare pair of terracotta vases, coated in cream slip with sgraffitto decoration, circa 1877. For a full explanation of these possibly unique vases recently purchased by the V&A Museum, see the exhibition catalogue. 15cm. An edition of 20.

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