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British 'Art' Cut Glass

Edinburgh Crystal; Royal Brierley (Stevens & Williams); Stuart & Sons; Thomas Webb; Webb Corbett; and Whitefriars

Background to the term 'Art' cut glass
As an area of glass collecting Cut Glass has been largely overlooked until recently since it has generally been perceived to follow the Victorian tradition of being highly over-cut. British Manufacturers had maintained that it was traditional design that sold their glass and had largely ignored the Scandinavian approach where factories generally employed trained in-house designers who understood both the materials and production methods. Yet the 1920's and 1930's saw a new approach toward cut glass design.

Companies began to understand the importance of specialist designers who could cater for modern tastes, whether they were employed in-house or on a free-lance basis. These exceptions included designers such as Keith Murray, an architect who designed on a free-lance basis for Royal Brierley, whilst Clyne Farquharson of John Walsh Walsh, and William Wilson of Whitefriars were successful in-house designers and, as such, are highly regarded by todays collectors.

Less well known are Ludwig Kny and Reginald Pierce who both worked for Stuart and Sons between the World Wars or Reginald Williams-Thomas who designed for his own family company of Royal Brierley (Stevens & Williams). There were other designers who have hardly been noticed until the recent selling exhibition held at the Richard Dennis Gallery in Kensington Church Street, London. Names like Harry Cuneen (Tudor Crystal), Freda Coleborn (Webb & Corbett), Deanne Meanley and W.J.Whitworth (Royal Brierley), and Doreen Norgrove (Thomas Webb) have all been overlooked. Major designers who have influenced both contemporary and future glass designers such as David Hammond, John Luxton, Helen Monroe (later Monroe-Turner) and Irene Stevens are also hardly known by todays collectors. However, many will know the work of Geoffrey Baxter for Whitefriars, yet it is only fairly recently that these collectors have shown interest in his cut glass work.

The list of designers associated with the factories that produced cut glass indicates the depth and diversity of collecting possible within this genre. Whilst much of the hesitation by modern collectors is the concern about lack of design, another involves the display of such pieces. The simple addition of a dark background, along with enhanced lighting, allows the patterns applied to cut glass to show to their best.

Now that Edinburgh Crystal, Stuart & Sons and Waterfords all have their own ranges of modern cut glass (not to mention the work imported from the Czech Republic, Poland, etc.) perhaps the time has arrived to re-appraise the earlier work of the 20th century.

Stuarts even took John Luxton out of retirement in his late 70's in order to develop a range based on one piece that he designed for them in the 1950's. This became known as the Luxton Collection and has been enlarged since. At the same time Jasper Conran was commissioned to design his Conran Collection, also for Stuarts. Both have been successful sellers, appealing to modern tastes. They have now been marketed under the Waterford umbrella since they own the Stuart name. Waterford also markets its own modern range by the fashion designer, John Rocha, whilst Edinburgh Crystal have produced a range of designs using weather inspired names such as Tempest and Cumulus.

Examples of British progressive, or 'art' cut glass

Stuart decanter designed by Paul Nash for the exhibition held at Harrods in 1934

A facet cut decanter designed by Keith Murray in the Modernist style for Royal Brierley c1930's

Keith Murray cut green decanter and matching cup glasses, pat no 841A, c1936/37, for S&W

A Webb's black flashed vase designed by Tom Pitchford for the Rembrandt Guild working, c1935

Art Deco cut glass vase by an unknown designer for Webb Corbett, c1930's

A cut, stylised flower pattern vase designed by John Luxton for Stuarts and Sons, c1960's

Being at the forefront of collecting, buying and selling stylish, well-designed British cut glass we always hold extensive stock by all the manufacturers and designers. If we don't have what you are looking for we can source it for you. If you are interested in purchasing any progressive, or ‘art’ cut glass, please

© Pictures and text - Nigel Benson - 20th Century Glass, 2008-2012

e-mail: 20th Century Glass

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