Sunday, 28 August 2011

Francis Troup and the Art Workers' Guild

Before reading about the beginnings of the Arts and Crafts movement, I had not appreciated the significance of Francis Troup being a member of, and designing the Hall at the Art Workers' Guild.  This places Troup firmly in the midst of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Art Workers' Guild logo

As Walter Crane (who you may have noticed is my oracle on all arts and crafts events before 1900!) noted "The Art Workers' Guild...was able more effectively to raise the banner of Decorative Design and Handicraft and to gather under it a larger and wider representative group of artists" (Crane, Walter, An Artist’s Reminscences, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1907), than The Fifteen.  Crane explains the demise of The Fifteen in 1884 "we kept our meetings up for two or three years, and should, no doubt have existed for longer, but for the ultimate but natural absorption of our members into a larger Society, which was formed in 1884, with similar objects to ours, namely, "The Art Workers' Guild" (ibid).  The Art Workers Guild describe themselves as "founded in January 1884 at the Charing Cross Hotel. It was the coming-together of two existing informal discussion groups: The Fifteen, composed of designers like Walter Crane and Lewis F. Day; and the St George's Art Society, composed of six architects, all but one being pupils of Richard Norman Shaw".
No. 6, Queen Square,
address of the Art Workers' Guild

According to Crane, many members of The Art Workers' Guild had attended meetings of the Chelsea Conspirators.  He also observes that in 1888 as part of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society "many members of the Art Workers' Guild took a prominent part as presidents of various sections, as paper readers, or in the discussions"(ibid).
F.W. Troup in the 1920s

Stamp (Stamp, Gavin, A Hundred Years of the Art Workers Guild) describes of the Guild "Meetings are held fortnightly in the Hall built in the yard of No 6, Queen Square, and Bloomsbury. This hall is a convivial place it was designed by F.W. Troup and built in the 1913-14...(the Master) wears a chain of office made by Sir George Frampton, sits in a chair designed by W.R Lethaby for the short-lived firm Kenton & Co behind a table provided in 1888 as a temporary measure by W.A.S Benson. Members sit on (uncomfortable) ladder-backed, rush seated Clissett chairs, based on a design by Ernest Gimson. All very formal, very quaint, very traditional; yet within the Guild, as in civilization in a more general sense, a tradition may enshrine and pass on great truths about human nature and life. In the case of the Guild this truth is summed up in the motto on the Master’s chain and in the symbol above the Master’s chair, designed by Walter Crane: ‘Art is Unity’".

Troup Hall, drawn by Thomas Raffles Davison 1918

The hall Troup designed seems to also be called 'Troup's Hall' which is a lasting testament.  Stamp (ibid) remarks "A bust of Morris sits in pride of place in the niche above the Master’s chair in Troup’s Hall, yet when Morris’s name was first put up forward as a member in 1888 he was literally blackballed in the election.  Fortunately, owing to what Gordon Russell called ‘an entirely reprehensible and utterly justifiable bit of fiddling on the part of a scrutineer’, the black ball was deftly removed from the box."  When I included the drawing of Troup's Hall (above) in my earlier Troup post, I thought the ceiling was wooden beams, but looking at more recent photographs of the Hall I was surprised to see that it actually glass.

Troup Hall, Art Workers' Guild
In terms of Francis Troup's participation in the Art Workers' Guild, it would appear that he was a prominent member, although he seems to have not been an original member, joining in 1895.   I have just come across a very interesting directory that lists Troup's exhibitions, speeches and business interests ('Mr Francis William Troup', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011).  An extract primarily listing the speeches he gave is below, from this his almost exclusive involvement in the Art Workers' Guild can be seen.

Extract of speeches and exhibitions of Francis Troup,
'Mr Francis William Troup', Mapping the Practice
and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951
University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, 
online database 2011).
Parry refers to him as "architect of the Art Workers' Guild" (Parry, Linda, Textiles of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Thames & Hudson, 2005).  Troup became Master of the Art Workers' Guild in 1923 in recognition of "valuable and untiring services as Architect to the fabric of the Guild premises" he was made an ex-officio member of committee (The fifty-second annual report of the committee of the Art Workers' Guild, 1936).  
Gilbert Bayes (1872-1953),
dressed in the robe of Master of the Art Workers' Guild,
robe donated by F.W. Troup in 1924

Troup donated a number of items to the Art Workers' Guild:

  • Donated a red gown of office to be worn by the Master of the Guild and black gowns to be worn by the two honorary secretaries in 1924 [AWG annual report for 1924, p.10] - these robes are doubtless the ones referred to on the Art Workers Guild website, and were designed by Voysey: "The Master serves for a single calendar year, and is supported by two honorary secretaries. They conduct the formal business of meetings in robes designed by the architect C. F. A. Voysey."  This is complicated by a history of the Guild that says "The current Master wears a strange red
    robe, designed, some says, by Voysey (though Ashbee thought this, and other traditions, were created by Troup along with the Hall)."  (Stamp, ibid)
  • Troup was reported in the 1926 to have "not only safeguarded the interests of the Guild in connection with the new building next door [no further information given], but generously gave his 'party-wall' fee to pay for a new arrangement of the electric lighting of the Hall" [AWG annual report for 1926, p.9].
  • In Troup's will he left a bequest to the Guild of £250.  He also left "The Works of William Morris" (24 volumes), 'a collection of valuable books on Architecture and other crafts' (45 volumes), a collection of slides, a red painted table (designed and painted by Burne-Jones), two armchairs designed by W.R.Lethaby and E.Gimson [Fifty-eighth annual report of the Committee of the Art Workers' Guild, pp.5-6].
Troup Hall ceiling, Art Workers' Guild

Details are given on the same website of numerous talks that Troup gave at  the Art Workers' Guild, such as: 
  • the 1923 speech on 'Line': "Troup suggested a reconciliatory shaking of hands between Sullivan and Jackson at the end of the meeting"!
  • 'Scottish Art, 1500-1800' also in 1923: "Troup spoke with slides of Scottish buildings, gardens and illustrations of period domestic life, all lent by Sir R. Lorimer courtesy of J. Warrack." - this is interesting as Troup worked with Lorimer on Whinfold, the house at Hascombe in 1898
  • the 1925 talk on 'Substitutes in the Crafts': "Ladies' Night. Subject opened by H. Ricardo, followed by S. B. Caufield, A. Rackham, T. Wilson, F. W. Troup, C. R. Ashbee and N. Heaton"
  • the 1929 Inigo Jones speech: "J. A. Gotch read paper and showed slides, followed by (C.R.) Ashbee and Troup"
  • the 1938 speech 'Scotland's contribution to the Arts': "F. W. Troup spoke post-interval about Scottish architecture ancient and modern, showing many of his own drawings"
Past members of the Guild include the Dolmetsches, the famous Haslemere early music instrument makers.  Arnold Dolmestch was a member from 1899 and Carl Dolmetsch  in 1953.

Troup Hall detail, Art Workers' Guild

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...