William Rothenstein

Walter Crane


Walter Crane was an Arts and Crafts designer, theorist and active socialist. His work is difficult to categorize. He made designs for wallpaper, pottery, stained glass, trades union banners; illustrated books, newspapers and magazines; wrote prolifically; and also painted. He believed in the ‘unity of the arts’ and was a founder member of the Art Workers’ Guild (founded in 1884), and was also president of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society from 1888 to 1893.

Crane was the first person in the audience to respond to George Birdwood’s damning comments concerning Indian art, made after E. B. Havell’s paper on 12 January 1910 at the Royal Society of Arts. Alighting on Havell’s points about the dangers of Western commercialism for the survival of traditional Indian arts and craft, Crane said that he had found a link between what certain artists in India and England were attempting to do, namely, to ‘raise the banner of the handicrafts’.

Crane and his wife had travelled to India in the winter of 1906-7, a journey he recorded in his book India Impressions. Crane noted that he and his wife had been inspired to make the trip after making the acquaintance several young Indian men in London, many of whom were called to the Bar. Crane was also a member of the India Society and sat on the Executive Committee of the Festival of Empire in 1911. He was involved with the Festival’s Indian Court committee and was appointed to the art sub-committee. Crane designed posters and other visual material for the Festival. A year after the Festival of Empire, Crane designed the front cover of a new publication, the African Times and Orient Review, edited by the Egyptian writer, actor and nationalist, Duse Mohamed.

Published works: 

The Baby's Opera ([S.I.]: Warner, [n.d.]) 

An Alphabet of Old Friends; and, The Absurd ABC (London: Routledge, 1874)

Lines and Outlines (London: Marcus Ward, 1875)

The Baby's Own Aesop: Being the Fables Condensed in Rhyme (London: Routledge & Sons, 1886)

Legends for Lionel: In Pen and Pencil (London: Cassell, 1887)

Flora's Feast: A Masque of Flowers, Penned and Pictured by Walter Crane (London: Cassell, 1889)

The Claims of Decorative Art (London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1892)

On the Study and Practice of Art: An Address Delivered to the Art Students of the Municipal School of Art and the Municipal Technical School, Manchester, Saturday, March 4th, 1893 (Manchester: Manchester Guardian Printing Works, 1893)

Cartoons for the Cause, 1886-1896 (A Souvenir of the International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress, 1896) (London: Twentieth Century Press, 1896)

Of the Decorative Illustration of Books Old and New (London: George Bell & Sons, 1896)

Bases of Design (London: George Bell and Sons, 1898)

Line and Form (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900)

Moot Points: Friendly Disputes on Art and Industry Between Walter Crane and Lewis F. Day (London: B. T. Batsford, 1903)

Ideals in Art: Papers, Theoretical, Practical, Critical (London: George Bell & Sons, 1905)

Flowers from Shakespeare's Garden: A Posy from the Plays (London: Cassell, 1906)

An artist's reminiscences (London: Macmillan, 1907)

India Impressions (London: Metheun, 1907)

William Morris to Whistler: Papers and Addresses on Art & Craft & Commonweal (London: G.Bell, 1911)

'Art and Character', Character and Life: A Symposium, ed. by Percy L. Parker (London: Williams & Norgate, 1912)

Date of birth: 
15 Aug 1845
Contributions to periodicals: 

‘How I Became a Socialist’, Justice (30 June 1894), p.6

‘The Work of Walter Crane with notes by the Artist’, Art Journal (1898) [Easter Art Annual]

‘Discussion’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 58.2985 (Feb. 1910), pp. 273-298

Secondary works: 

Dölvers, Horst, Walter Cranes "Aesop" im Kontekst seiner Entstehung, Buchkunst und Bilderkunst im Victorianischen England (Kassel: Edition Eichenberger, 1994) 

Engen, Rodney, Walter Crane as Book Illustrator (London: Academy Editions, 1975)

Gerard, David, Walter Crane and the Rhetoric in Art (London: Nine Elms Press, 1999)

Konody, P.G., The Art of Walter Crane (London: George Bell and Sons, 1902)

Lundin, Anne H., Victorian Horizons: The Reception of the Picture Books of Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway (London: Scarecrow, 2001)

O’Neill, Morna, “Art and Labour’s Cause is One": Walter Crane and Manchester, 1880-1915 (Manchester: The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, 2008)

Spencer, Isobel, Walter Crane (London: Studio Vista, 1975)

Archive source: 

Letters, British Library Manuscript Collection, British Library, St Pancras

Papers, Glasgow School of Art Archives, Glasgow

Correspondence and Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Boston

Papers, Leeds University, Leeds

Correspondence and Papers, London School of Economics Archive, London

Letters, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Papers, Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
14 Mar 1915

1924 British Empire Exhibition

23 Apr 1924
Event location: 



The British Empire Exhibition was opened on St George’s Day, 23 April 1924, by King Edward V and Queen Mary at the Empire Stadium. The idea for an exhibition of industry across the Empire was under consideration from early on in the twentieth century; however the idea was abandoned when the Russo-Japanese war broke out in 1904. In 1913, the idea was resurrected by Lord Strathcona, however the outbreak of the First World War meant that the exhibition was delayed for a second time. In 1919 the proposition was reconsidered again at a lunch at the Empire Club which was attended by Prime Ministers and High Commissioners from across the Empire who agreed on a proposed date of 1921. After successfully passing through both Houses of Parliament, the Government became joint guarantor, ending up funding around 50% of the £2,200,000 raised to stage the exhibition. 1923 was proposed as the new opening date, yet this was later postponed to 1924.

The organizers pursued four main objectives with the exhibition. They wanted: to alert the public to the fact that in the exploitation of raw materials of the Empire, new sources of wealth could be produced; to foster inter-imperial trade; to open new world markets for Dominion and British products; and to foster interaction between the different cultures and people of the Empire by juxtaposing Britain’s industrial prowess with the diverse products of the Dominions and colonies. The location for the exhibition was Wembley Park as it was regarded as one of the most easily accessible areas of London, both from the suburbs and from the rest of the country, with two mainline stations and a new station inside the exhibition grounds. A vast infrastructure project was also proposed, leading to the widening of approach roads from central London to the exhibition. The exhibition covered an area of more than 216 acres and in the two years it was open attracted over twenty million visitors.

The exhibition was open for six months in 1924 and reopened in 1925 and showcased produce and manufactured goods, arts and crafts as well as historical artefacts from each of the Dominions, the Indian Empire as well as Britain’s African and Caribbean Colonies. The exhibition was also accompanied by a cultural programme and a series of conferences. Britain focused on its textiles, chemicals and engineering and was keen to emphasis its central role in ensuring progress for the whole of the Empire. The Ceylon Pavilion modelled on The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and displayed valuable collections of jewellery and gem stones. Built by architects Charles Allem and Sons, The India Pavilion was modelled on the Jama Masjid in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra. The white building was divided into 27 courts, each dedicated to the exhibition of products from one of the twenty seven Indian provinces. It was one of the few pavilions where food was served. It also hosted an exhibition on Indian art curated by the India Society with the involvement of William Rothenstein, who made available over twenty-three paintings – only the India Office lent more. The Fine Art Committee for the India section at the Exhibition included Austin Kendall, Stanley Clarke, Sir Hercule Read (President of the India Society), William Rothenstein, William Foster, and Laurence Binyon. The India Society also held a conference at the Exhibition on June 2, 1924.

When the exhibition closed in October 1925, it had made a loss of £ 1.5 Million.

King George V (Patron), Edward, Prince of Wales (President) Board: James Stevenson, Henry MacMahon, James Allen, Charles McLeod, Traverse Clarke.
People involved: 
Published works: 

A Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to London and the British Empire Exhibition 1924, 45th edn (London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1924)

British Empire Exhibition, 1924: Wembley, London, April-October: handbook of general information (London: British Empire Exhibition, 1924)

Catalogue of the Palace of Arts (London, Fleetway Press, 1924)

Illustrated Souvenir of the Palace of Arts (London: Fleetway Press, 1924)

India: Souvenir of the Indian Pavilion and its Exhibits: Souvenir of Wembley 1924 (Wembley: British Empire Exhibition, 1924)

The British Empire Exhibition (London: Fleetwood Press, 1925)

Travancore at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924 (London: Haycock, Cadle & Graham, 1924)

Examples of Indian Art at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924 (London: The India Society, 1925)

Conference on Indian Art Held at the British Empire Exhibition on Monday, June 2, 1924, under the Auspices of The India Society, Sir Francis Younghusband in the Chair (London: The India Society, n.d.)

Secondary works: 

Grant Cook, Marjorie and Fox, Frank, The British Empire Exhibition, 1924. Official Guide (London: Fleetway Press, 1924) 

Greenhalgh, Paul, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fairs, 1851-1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988)

Hughes, Deborah, 'Kenya, India and the British Empire Exhibition of 1924', Race and Class, 47.4 (April – June 2006)

Knight, Donald R. and Sabey, Alan D., The Lion Roars at Wembley: British Empire Exhibition 60th Anniversary, 1924-1925 (New Barnett: D. R. Knight, 1984)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism: India's artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947 (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Moore, Harras, The Marlborough Pocket Guide to the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, 1924 (London: Marlborough Printing Company, 1924)

The British Empire Exhibition Wembley 1924 – Fiftieth Anniversary (London, Wembley: Wembley History Society, 1974)

Archive source: 

Mss Eur F 147, India Society papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Eric Gill


Eric Gill was one of the most significant sculptors to work in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. As well as being a talented stone carver, he was also a gifted draughtsman, letterer, typographer and printer. Rejecting the established techniques of making sculpture with the aid of the pointing machine, Gill is credited with re-establishing the practice of ‘direct carving’ in Britain and influencing the work of subsequent generations of sculptors, including Henry Moore.

Gill began to make sculpture in 1909, having trained in the offices of the architect W. D. Caroë and enrolled in evening classes in masonry at the Westminster Technical Institute and calligraphy at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. His first figural sculpture, Estin Thalassa (now lost), combined cut lettering, for which he had already become well known, and a naked, crouching woman. He showed photographs of this work to William Rothenstein and Roger Fry who became crucial supporters of his work. Whilst Rothenstein was travelling in India, Gill wrote to him telling him about his own exposure in Britain to images of Indian architecture and sculpture through a publication called Wonders of the World.

In 1908, Gill met Ananda Coomaraswamy at a lecture given by the latter at the Art Workers’ Guild in London. Through these acquaintances, Gill became interested in the art and culture of India and he joined the India Society in 1910 (as did fellow sculptor Jacob Epstein). Gill took a specific interest in the religious carving which adorned South Asian temples, heavily influenced by Coomaraswamy’s publications. In his Autobiography, Gill wrote of Coomaraswamy: ‘I dare not confess myself his disciple; that would only embarrass him. I can only say that I believe that no other living writer has written the truth in matters of art and life and religion and piety with such wisdom and understanding.’ Gill also wrote an introductory essay on ‘Art and Reality’ for Mulk Raj Anand’s The Hindu View of Art and contributed a full-page engraving to Anand’s The Lost Child, published in 1934.

Published works: 

‘Preface’, in Vivakarma: Examples of Indian Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Handicraft, Chosen by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, First Series: One Hundred Examples of Indian Sculpture: With an Introduction by Eric Gill (London: Messrs. Luzac, 1914), pp. 3-7

Slavery and Freedom (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1917)

Sculpture (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1918)

Birth Control (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1919)

Dress (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1921)

Art and Love (Waltham St Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press, 1928)

The Future of Sculpture (London: Lanston Monotype Corporation Ltd)

Art-Nonsense and Other Essays (London: Cassell & Co. and Francis Walterson, 1929)

Sculpture and the Living Model (London: Faber & Faber)

Art and a Changing Civilisation (London: John Lane – The Bodley, 1934)

The Necessity of Belief (London: Faber & Faber/Hague & Gill, 1936)

Work & Property (London: Dent & Sons/Hague & Gill, 1937)

Twenty-five Nudes (London: Dent & Sons/Hague & Gill, 1938)

Autobiography (London: Jonathan Cape, 1940)


Eric Gill to William Rothenstein, letter written whilst Rothenstein was travelling in India, 6 January 1911, Ms ENG 1148/596/36, William Rothenstein Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Date of birth: 
22 Feb 1882
Contributions to periodicals: 

The Listener (‘A Sign and a Symbol’, 15 March 1933, p. 397)

(under pseudonym E. Rowton) Westminster Cathedral Chronicle (‘The Stations of the Cross in the Cathedral’, March 1918, p. 52)


So we have been gaining some small notion of the sort of thing you are seeing… I agree with you in your suggestion that the best route to Heaven is via Elephanta, Ellora & Ajanta. They must be wonderful places indeed…Someday we will follow in your footsteps and go and see the real things.

Secondary works: 

Attwater, Donald, A Cell of Good Living: The Life, Works and Opinions of Eric Gill (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1969)

Attwater, Donald, Eric Gill: Workman (London: James Clarke & Co., 1941)

Collins, Judith, Eric Gill: Sculpture (London: Lund Humphries, in association with Barbican Art Gallery, 1992)

Collins, Judith, Eric Gill, the Sculpture: A Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Herbert Press, 1998)

Gill, E. R., Bibliography of Eric Gill (London: Cassell & Co. 1953)

Gill, E. R., The Inscriptional Work of Eric Gill: An Inventory (London: Cassell & Co. 1964)

Physick, J. F., The Engraved Works of Eric Gill (London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1963)

Jones, David, Epoch and Artist (London: Faber & Faber, 1959)

MacCarthy, Fiona, Eric Gill (London: Faber & Faber, 1989)

Peace, David, Eric Gill: The Inscriptions (London: The Herbert Press, 1994)

Rothenstein, J. K. M., Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1927)

Shewering, Walter (ed.), The Letters of Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1947)

Skelton, Christopher, The Engravings of Eric Gill (Wellingborough: Skelton’s Press, 1983)

Speaight, Robert, The Life of Eric Gill (London: Methuen, 1966)

Thorpe, Joseph, Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1929)

Yorke, Malcolm, Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit (London: Constable, 1981)

Archive source: 

Diaries and papers, NUC MS 77-1948, William Andrew Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles

Correspondence, Add 73195 ff, Manuscript Collections, British Library, St Pancras

Letter and photographs, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Correspondence, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Papers, including artwork files, Chatto & Windus Archive, Reading University Library, Reading

Postcards and drawings, MSL/1977/5316; MSL1983/24/1-2; MSL/1957/3382; MSL/1977/5952; MSL/1964/3241, National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum

Correspondence and papers, University of San Francisco Library, San Franscisco

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill

Date of death: 
17 Nov 1940

Brighton; Chichester; Ditchling, Sussex; Capel-y-ffin, Wales; Piggots, Buckinghamshire.

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