ARTS AND CRAFTS, a comprehensive title for the arts of decorative design and handicraft—all those which, in association with the mother-craft of building (or architecture), go to the making of the house beautiful. Accounts of these will be found under separate headings. "Arts and crafts" are also associated with the movement generally understood as the English revival of decorative art, which began about 1875. The title itself only came into general use when the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society was founded, and held its first exhibition at the New Gallery, London, in the autumn of 1888. The idea of forming a society for the purpose of showing contemporary work in design and handi craft really arose out of a movement of revolt or protest against the exclusive view of art encouraged by the Royal Academy exhi bitions, in which oil paintings in gilt frames claimed almost ex clusive attention—sculpture, architecture and the arts of decora tive design being relegated to what then amounted to quite sub ordinate positions. In 1886, out of a feeling of discontent among artists as to the inadequacy of the Royal Academy exhibitions, considered as representing the art of Great Britain, a demand arose for a national exhibition to include all the arts of design. One of the points of this demand was for the annual election of the hanging committee by the whole body of artists. After many meetings the group representing the arts and crafts (who belonged to a larger body of artists and craftsmen called the Art-Workers' Guild, founded in 1884), perceiving that the painters, especially the leading group of a school not hitherto well represented in the Academy exhibitions, only cherished the hope of forcing certain reforms on the Academy, and were by no means prepared to lose their chances of admission to its privileges, still less to run any risk in the establishment of a really comprehensive national exhibition of art, decided to organize an exhibition themselves in which artists and craftsmen might show their productions, so that con temporary work in decorative art should be displayed to the public with the same advantages as had hitherto been monopolized by pictorial art. For many years previously there had been great activity in the study and revival in the practice of many of the decorative handicrafts neglected in England and America, though on the Continent and throughout the East these were carried on without a break. The machine production of an industrial century had laid its iron hands upon what had formerly been the exclusive province of the handicraftsman, who in England only lingered on in a few obscure trades and in forgotten corners. The ideal of mechanical perfection dominated workmen, and the factory system, first by extreme division of labour, and then by the further specialization of the workman under machine production, left no room for individual artistic feeling among craftsmen trained and working under such conditions. The demand of the world-market ruled the character and quality of production, and to the few who would seek some humanity, simplicity of con struction or artistic feeling in their domestic decorations and furniture, the only choice was that of the tradesman or salesman, or a plunge into costly and doubtful experiments in original design. From the 'forties onward there had been much research and study of mediaeval art in England ; there had been many able designers, architects and antiquaries, such as the Pugins and Henry Shaw (180o-1873) and later William Burges (1827-1881), William Butterfield (1814-190o) and G. E. Street and others. The school of pre-Raphaelite painters, by their careful and thorough methods, and their sympathy with mediaeval design, were among the first to turn attention to beauty of design, colour and significance in the accessories of daily life, and artists like D. G. Rossetti, themselves designed and painted furniture. The most successful and most practical effort indeed towards the revival of sounder ideas of construction and workmanship may be said to have arisen out of the work of this group of artists, and may be traced to the work shop of William Morris and his associates. William Morris, whose name covers so large a field of artistic as well as literary and social work, came well equipped to his task of raising the arts of design and handicraft, of changing the taste of his countrymen from the corrupt and vulgar ostentation of the Second Empire, and its cheap imitations, which prevailed in the 'fifties and 'sixties, and of winning them back, for a time at least, to the massive simplicity of plain oak furniture, or the delicate beauty of inlays of choice woods, or the charm of painted work, the richness and frank colour of formal floral and heraldic pattern in silk textiles and wall hangings and carpets, the gaiety and freshness of printed cotton, or the romantic splendour of arras tapestry. Both William Morris and his artistic comrade and life-long friend, Edward Burne-Jones, were no doubt much influenced at the outset by the imaginative insight, the passionate artistic feeling, and the love of mediaeval romance and colour of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who remains so remarkable a figure in the great artistic and poetic revival of the latter half of the 19th century. To William Morris himself, in his artistic career, it was no small advantage to gain the ear of the English public first by his poetry. His verse-craft helped his handi craft, but both lived side by side. The secret of Morris's great influence in the revival was no doubt to be attributed to his way of personally mastering the working details and handling of each craft he took up in turn, as well as to his power of inspiring his helpers and followers. He was painter, designer, scribe, illumi nator, wood-engraver, dyer, weaver and finally printer and paper maker, and having mastered these crafts he could effectively direct and criticize the work of others. His own work and that of Burne Jones were well known to the public, and in high favour long before the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society was formed, but though largely helped and inspired by the work of these two artists, the aims and objects of the society rather represented those of a younger generation, and were in some measure a fresh development both of the social and the artistic ideas which were represented by Ruskin, Rossetti and Morris, though the society includes men of different schools. Other sources of in fluence might be named, such as the work of Norman Shaw and Philip Webb in architecture and decoration, of Lewis Day in surface pattern, and William de Morgan in pottery. The demand for the acknowledgment of the personality of each responsible craftsman in a co-operative work was new, and it had direct bearing upon the social and economic conditions of artistic pro duction. The principle, too, of regarding the material, object, method and purpose of a work as essential conditions of its artistic expression, the form and character of which must always be controlled by such conditions, had never before been so emphatically stated, though it practically endorsed the somewhat vague aspirations current for the unity of beauty with utility. Again, a very notable return to extreme simplicity of design in furniture and surface decoration may be remarked ; and a certain reserve in the use of colour and ornament, and a love of abstract forms in decoration generally, which are characteristic of later taste. Not less remarkable has been the new development in the design and workmanship of jewellery, gold and silversmiths' work and enamels. Among the arts and crafts of design which blossomed into new life during this active period—and there is hardly one which was not touched by the new spirit—book-binding must be named as having attained a fresh and tasteful develop ment through the work of Mr. Cobden-Sanderson and his pupils. The art and craft of the needle also must not be forgotten, and its progress is a good criterion of taste in design, choice of colour and treatment. The increase of late years in these exhibitions of designs worked out in the actual material for which they were intended is very remarkable, and is an evidence of the spread of the arts and crafts movement (fostered no doubt by the increase of technical schools) of which it may be said that if they have not turned all craftsmen into artists or all artists into craftsmen, they have done not a little to expand and socialize the idea of art, and (perhaps it is not too much to say) have made the tasteful house with its furniture and decorations a model for the civilized world. (W. CR.) The craftsmen, having successfully revolted against the crushing influence of academic thought, perhaps carried their spirit too far in the resentment toward the machine and its influences. A new trend is distinctly perceptible—that of making use of the machine for the accomplishment of better arts and crafts—and there is no doubt but that this trend will lead to a most interesting new era of art.
Along with this trend another movement occurred, attributed by many to the World War. The younger generation who were in volved in the conflict, naturally questioned the old standards—in religion, in ethics as applied to daily life, and in speculative philosophy. With this doubt came a questioning of the standards of art, alike in Germany, France and later England and America. As a result nearly every art school in these countries laid chief stress upon originality as opposed to the teaching of technique or old standards, and a further reason for this spirit of revolt was that the machine introduced so many new elements into consideration.
Only recently have there been indications that the artists were learning to master the machine and to make it turn out works of art which they desired and had foreseen, and with this mastery of the machine there is becoming evident the tendency toward the greater stressing of technique. The days of William Morris are past and the hand-craftsman will ever find it more difficult to compete with the machine, and the modern craftsman of intelli gence does not attempt this competition but turns the machine to his uses. By "the machine" we do not mean only mechanical contrivances, but all of those scientific aids such as photography, moving photography, etc., which are now available. The one loss is the lack of that delicately personal touch which the artist's hand can give to a piece of craftsmanship, but daily we see new evidence of the possibilities which the machine has for the ex pression of this touch. Modern potters in Copenhagen and else where are turning out vases which, though different, are just as beautiful as those which were executed by hand in China. Modern glass is equally fine and shows a mass of new technical possibilities. Modern textiles show a range of colour and technique never before possible. Moreover, in bookbinding and also in printing the Nonesuch press is proving almost daily that real beauty can be obtained through the use of the machine. Modern jewellery has benefited by the advanced methods of treating metals and of cutting precious stones. Thus, we may be at the dawn of what may possibly be one of the greatest periods in the history of art, and craftsmanship and the use of the machine are the two key notes of this period, no longer warring with each other, but col laborating to a better purpose. (W. E. Cx.)