AWN Pugin | The First Secessionist

AWN Pugin | The First Secessionist

In our 31 October sale, the Design department at Sworders are delighted to offer pieces from the extraordinary collection of Clive Wainwright (1942-1999), following the successful exhibition with H Blairman & Sons in London, emphasising the Gothic Revival period in general, and AWN Pugin in particular.

12 October 2023

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A 'Gothic' pattern part dinner service c.1850, designed by A W N Pugin for Minton, Stoke-on-Trent (£150-250)

A 'Gothic' pattern part dinner service c.1850, designed by A W N Pugin for Minton, Stoke-on-Trent (£150-250)

 

Born the son of the prominent Anglo-French architect Augustus Charles Pugin, the career path of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin was defined from an early age. Allowing himself to be influenced by post-Enlightenment philosophy, as well as embracing Catholicism following the Emancipation in 1829, he would come to define the identity of British architecture in the age following the Industrial Revolution, and in so doing, lay one of the cornerstones of British design history.


Much like his father, whom he trained under, Pugin regarded the Gothic period in British history as the pinnacle of architecture. Pugin (Sr) was during his life widely regarded for his precise studies and implementations of the Gothic style, an epoch which in the early 19th century came back to the forefront of public consciousness as a juxtaposition to the Industrial Revolution. Championed by artists such as William Blake, the Gothicism was revered as the quintessentially human, and the order toward which we should aspire.


AWN Pugin would argue these points further, almost forty years after Blake did, in his 1836 book ‘Contrasts’ in which he made the case for British art and architecture to have been in a constant state of decay since the Middle Ages. The reversal of this, he argued, was to be found in the spiritual re-invigoration of society (himself having converted to Catholicism only the year before), directly correlating the spiritual wellbeing of society with the quality of the art and architecture produced, necessitating the balanced coexistence of both for humanity and the arts to thrive and evolve.

 

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) an oak chest of two short and three long drawers (£400-600)


Working according to his philosophy, backed up by his skill as a draughtsman, Pugin undertook several important commissions throughout the 1830s, working on both ecclesiastical architecture and private commissions by the aristocracy. One of the most prominent projects in this period was St Marie’s Grange near Salisbury, the first structure to fully embrace his tenets of architecture. The exterior was comparatively plain, deriving its ornamentation instead from the fittings and furnishings within, all of which should be considered and designed to enhance the structure. Furthermore, these should be illustrative of purpose, not simply lavish for the sake of excessiveness or as a display of wealth. Through these principles, Pugin seceded notably from the styles Victorian England, often relying on excessive ornamentation.


His most notable contributions to British design history, however, would be carried out between 1846 until his death in 1852. Following the burning of Parliament in 1834, renowned architect Charles Barry won the commission for its redesign. Aware of Pugin’s prowess as a draughtsman, Barry hired Pugin to assist with the interior work of the structure. The comprehensive project saw Pugin’s philosophy made manifest at an extensive scale, as he executed hundreds of designs, ranging from chairs, desks, and bookcases to stained glass windows, clocks and candlesticks, all designed to complement and enhance the larger structure and its architecture.


In our October sale, the Design department at Sworders are delighted to offer pieces from the extraordinary collection of Clive Wainwright (1942-1999), following the successful exhibition with H Blairman & Sons in London, emphasising the Gothic Revival period in general, and AWN Pugin in particular.

 

A 'Gothic' pattern part dinner service c.1850, designed by A W N Pugin for Minton, Stoke-on-Trent (£150-250)

A 'Gothic' pattern part dinner service c.1850, designed by A W N Pugin for Minton, Stoke-on-Trent (£150-250)

 
Clive Wainwright joined the National Art Library before moving, in 1968, to the Department of Furniture and Woodwork at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where he became recognised for his scholarship and his bearded, tweed-suited appearance. He was a popular lecturer and published widely.


The muscular furniture of Pugin, Burgess and the Gothic Revival became a speciality under the influence of collector Charles Handley-Read. However, his core interest lay in the growth of antiquarianism in Britain, a subject he explored in his best-known publication ‘The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750-1850’, published by 1989.


Clive and Jane furnished their early Victorian home in Clerkenwell very much in the antiquarian style, with their thoughtfully compiled collection of Gothic Revival and Romantic pieces. Jane has now made the difficult decision to downsize, generously donating, to the Landmark Trust, the house they shared and so carefully furnished.

 

Clive Wainwright (1942-1999) & Jane Wainwright

 


 

Tuesday 31 October | 10am

design@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

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