Everyone has an opinion when it comes to arts and crafts. After all without them art critics would be out of a job. However when it comes to arts and crafts movements there have been arguably non better than the one that began to spring up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pioneered by wonderful craftsmen such as William Morris and Gustav Stickly the movement flourished quickly throughout Europe and North America and even threw its influences as far afield as Japan.
The term arts and crafts movement refers to a particular style that is followed by the artists and there have been many such movements like the art deco movement of the 1920’s and even pop art made popular by Andy Warhol during the swinging sixties. The British arts and crafts movement took its first steps with artists who were trying to take on a more natural approach to their work. Coming out of the Industrial Revolution period, artists were becoming tired of the mechanized and structured approach to daily life and sought a release in creating works that reflected more the natural order of things.
Probably the most famous of all its practitioners was William Morris. His home, Red House was situated just outside the polluted haze of industrial London and still stands today as the premier place to see fine examples of arts and crafts at their best, the most famous being Morris’s beautifully embroidered Tulip and Rose curtain and the lavishly bound Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury tales.
Another movement that popped up around the same period of time, especially on the Cornish and Devon art scene, was the Newlyn School situated on the Cornish coast in Penzance. As you can imagine, this school featured mainly seascapes and the working lives of the local fisherman. Again it took on a much more natural look and the amazing seascapes, contrast of color and amazing natural light drew in artists from all over Europe. The beautiful natural outdoor scenery earned the movement along with the California and French Barbizon School the French name of En plein air style of painting. Some of the most recognizable works of art from this period are Between the Tides by Walter Langley in 1901 which depicts a weary looking fisherman about to go out to his boat at the quayside in Penzance.