THE STUDIO an illustrated magazine of fine and applied

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"THE STUDIO an illustrated magazine of fine & applied arts"

I've been collecting and selling copies on Ebay of this wonderful Arts & Crafts magazine from its first two decades1893-1913  and wish to share some associated thoughts and research  with others interested.

The magazine was first published in April 1893 and has continued, in evolving forms, until the present day, where it became one of the first e-journals. It was published monthly, initially at 6d a copy, with a cover designed by the young Aubrey Beardsley. The soft, sugar paper backed magazines have a wealth of wonderful advertisements which are missing from the beautifully bound "Volumes" , each of which covers four editions.

Contents are stunning and their influence was great at the time and arguably, this influence has survived because of their cultural impact and wide dissemination at the time. They championed internationally the Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Secessionist and Weiner Werkstatte movements. The Glasgow School ( C R Mackintosh, Jessie King, Margaret Macdonald...)seems to have been greatly popularised by the magazine. Articles on Galle, Tiffany, Lalique etc are superb. Lavish reviews and descriptions of the hugely important International and National exhibitions at London, Manchester, Milan, Turin, Glasgow, New Orleans etc were very thorough- often stretching over several issues.

Subject matter covered was eclectic; lots of contemporary arts and crafts side by side with historic articles on Old Masters, old furniture, Japanaese tobacco boxes, Architecture, gardens, Maori Art...There are reminiscences and memorials to those who've died- Mortimer Menpes on Whistler, Memorials of Aubrey Beardsley etc.

Illustrations were either incidental to the text in black & white photographs, or as "supplements" many of which were specially prepared by the artist. Many of those were in colour or lithography. The Studio was one of the first magazines to use photomechanical reproduction. As those suppements were a on special papers (sometimes even tissue or waxed paper) and printed one sided, it's a fair guess that many were destined for framing.

Bound editions (very heavy duty- olive green cloth covered with gilding) were designed for library or personal use where they provided much comfort and joy (they still do!)

My own copies all come from the first two decades. I don't have any of the most coveted special issues on jewellery, fans, photography, but those I do have provide endless snippets and surprises as well as sustained information. I've found picures of early Cecil Aldin paintings, furniture by Gimson, Ambrose Heal, pottery by Howson Taylor, Royal Copenhagen, Howard Stabler... Larger articles on Jessie King, Cranston Rea Rooms by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, numerous ones on J McNeill Whistler delight.

Some of the recurrent names appearing have now lost their glamour (to be regained)- Frank Brangwyn, E Boroughs Johnson, Alfred East, Nico Jungman, Kossiakov, Alexander Fisher. Others mentioned will become much bigger- Lutyens, Gertrude Jekyll, Beardsley, Annie Macbeth, Ambrose Heal, Jessie King, Lalique, Galle,
Tiffany, Lancastrian....

Insistent questions arise; look at the wonderful reader competion entries in each magazine- the quality is amazing and note that many of the entrants, together with many of the artists/makers shown in articles on the National & Regional schools are women. What became of them? They lived in an age where young women were at last being given the ambition and opportunity to study but where was the fruition?  And think that these were to be the young women left widowed or without partners because of the forthcoming Great War. Lots of beautiful textiles and leatherwork illustrated in Studio Talk show designs executed by wives, sisters and daughters. Many of  the writers were women, their sex often hidden behind initials like A S Levetus (Amelia) the influential  Austrian Viennese correspondent.

I fell in love with the Studio at a (very Up-) market stall and bought all the copies I could find. I'm gradually selling them individually as I can bear to part with them. These bound volumes had gone through many existences, most obvious of which is the school library phase of their lives. They'd been donated- probably in 20s-30s- wonder what the boys made of them? Many of the contents were deeply unfashionable again until the 1970s. Many of the bound volumes have one or two plates only missing (deeply frustrating but fascinating- why that page?) As these were generally NOT the most interesting plates (to me anyway) I like to imagine small boys cutting out pagesfor a bet or an illustration in a project!

The romance of the books is immense. It's like entering the world of A S Byatt's "The Children's Book" (hugely recommended!) You can sense the Arts & Crafts movement as international but close knit and vibrant collection of individulas all knowing and feeding off each other's ideas which filter through to a wider public.

There's so much more to write about and maybe I'll do so. Next I might write about the advertisements in the individual copies. I haven't found much about the magazines through a Google search. Would love to hear from others interested!

Anne Blackburn
January 2011

Look at my Ebay shop, Unconsidered Trifles, where I sell a collection of things that tickle my fancy- including many items made from Liberty fabric.



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