C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer, and Romantic Socialist

Alan Crawford, Author Yale University Press $85 (512p) ISBN 978-0-300-03467-7
Charles Ashbee believed that in a modern industrialized society every person must be an artist or else be reduced to a mechanical drudge. Guided by the Romantic ideals of Ruskin and Morris, he founded the Guild of Handicraft workshop in London in the 1880s; its crafts and plays, Wednesday suppers and river trips celebrated worker solidarity and the closeness of art to life. An architect, town planner, silversmith and social reformer, this Arts and Crafts pioneer created Chelsea townhouses with clever brick facades; he restored cottages, published fine editions of Erasmus and prayer books, and designed colorful necklaces modeled on Renaissance jewelry. While Ashbee's attempts to curtail the use of machinery and to promote craft guilds now seem quixotic, his versatile output was inspirational. In 1919 he traveled to Jerusalem at age 56 to repair the bazaars and build new city walls. More than 200 illustrations (20 in color) enliven a workmanlike biography. January 15
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-300-10939-9
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