With a life and career straddling the 19th and 20th centuries, designer Archibald Knox helped give the Art Nouveau style in Britain its distinctive look and timeless appeal. Born on the Isle of Man in 1864, Knox came of age in the shadow of Britain’s art reform movement and influenced by the luminaries William Morris and, later, M.H. Baillie Scott.
As early as 1897, Knox began designing jewelry and metal wares for Liberty & Company, the famed London retailer founded by Arthur Lazenby Liberty in 1875, whose range of artistic home and giftwares catered to aesthetically-minded consumers in Britain and abroad. In 1903, Liberty & Co. released a line of pewter ware, called “Tudric,” with a high silver content, setting it apart from other pewter and giving the items a typically silver shine.
Much of Liberty’s Tudric lines were designed by Knox, though it was the company’s policy at the time to keep the identity of their designers (and their respective designs) anonymous. Knox’s designs exhibit his penchant for Celtic ornament, raised slightly from the body of the object and rounded, elongated, and tapered in service of the elegant, organic lines of the Art Nouveau style, then at the height of its popularity in the early 1900s. Some designs were customized by Liberty with the addition of enameling, adding jewel tones in rich contrast to the grey pewter.
Freeman’s is thrilled to offer more than two dozen, fine examples of Knox’s Tudric pewter ware designs, including, candelabras, a seven-piece tea and coffee service, and seven clocks, on April 6 at the 1000 Years of Collecting: The Jeffrey M. Kaplan Collection auction.
Images: To be offered 04/06/17: A collection of Liberty & Co. pewter wares. A "Tudric" pewter and glass bullet-shaped vase. Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co., London and James Powell, circa 1900.