Thursday, 5 April 2012

Good Friday greetings

It's Good Friday tomorrow so it seemed appropriate to try to find something with a religious theme for today's post. I came up with an image of Francesco Francia's Pieta, from a book called Legends of Our Lord, published in 1910.

Legends of Our Lord, by Mrs Arthur Bell, published 1910.
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (BADDA 2946)

The book uses images from art history to tell the story of Christ's life. I have a hunch, however, that the designers who worked for the Silver Studio weren't interested in this book for its religious content. My suspicion is that they were more interested in it as a source of images. A note on the book indicates that it was kept in the Studio itself, suggesting that it was for used for practical- rather than divine - inspiration.

These days we are bombarded with visual imagery at every turn. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, artists and designers had to build up their own collections of visual source material to use as inspiration for their work. In 1894 a journalist described the Silver Studio as being "full of Japanese prints and photographs after Botticelli". This hints at the visually rich and stimulating nature of the Silver Studio as a working environment. So it seems likely that this book, along with many others on a whole range of themes, were kept close at hand in the Studio, ready to be referred to.

It's fascinating to see how the meanings of objects shift and change over time. The designers who worked for the Silver Studio amassed loads of material as visual reference; from books and catalogues, to cigarette cards, postcards and much more besides.These days, the same things, and the Studio's own output, is used by students and researchers looking for inspiration of their own.


  1. Interesting piece. I am looking around my own work space as I read this and spot several books which I have for design inspiration rather than for the content for which they were written. 'Collins Aircraft Annual' 1930, being one example! It is full of wonderfully stylised images and chapters titled, British Pluck", "Blue Funk" !

  2. Such a wonderful and excellent piece. And I like the photo too. It's very ideal and meaningful. There are so many good friday quotes perfect to describe it. thanks for sharing!