Bowl by Charles Robert Ashbee

1902 Bowl by Charles Robert Ashbee Guild of Handicraft

Hand-raised two-handled bowl with applied wires set with chrysoprase (new glass liner). Maker’s mark: Charles Robert Ashbee for the Guild of Handicraft. Measurements: Height 7.7 cm. Width 28.3 cm.

The practical idealist C.R. Ashbee (1863-1942), inspired by William Morris’ reforming anti-industrialism and idealisation of medieval craftsmen, founded the Guild of Handicraft in 1888 with the tenet “Humanity and craftsmanship are inseperable”. The crafting of silver, jewellery, ironwork, cabinet making and book printing were embraced. Following the publicising of its products in the influential magazine, The Studio (first issued in 1893), and in shows of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society (founded 1888) prestigious commissions were undertaken in silver, such as a steeple cup for the Painter-Stainers’ Company and the High Alter crucifix for Lichfield Cathedral. In 1902 the Guild, now numbering some 150 members, moved to reside as a community in Chipping Campden and to work in an old silk mill there. Art, as a part of daily life, was central to Ashbee’s vision.

1902 Charles Ashbee Guild of Handicraft bowl

There Guild metalwork addressed itself to the market, and Ashbee, an architect, was an innovative silver designer. He acknowledged the modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright (“far and away the ablest man in our line of work… in America”) as well as continental Art Nouveau. However the linear elegance of his designs was directed at “the neglected power for creation in men’s hands” – the relatively basic craft skills of the guildsmen.

Loop handled bowls were by now a ‘Guild’ design, consistent with simple tableware for everyday life, involving the craftsman not only in their execution but in the introduction of variations of the design, the raison d’être of the Guild. Purchased by the Company in 1975.

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The Goldsmiths’ Company decided in 1926 to begin a collection of modern silver, to improve the design and craftsmanship in the silver industry.

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A unique and consistent collection of innovative studio jewellery by creative individuals expressing their artistry in precious metals.