Arts and Crafts Movement: History, Artwork, Artists

The Arts and Crafts Movement is an art movement characterized by the use of high natural quality materials, emphasis on utility in design and a harmonious relationship with nature. The movement emerged in the mid-19th century and initiated a shift in societal perception of the significance of craftsmanship. It was a global movement in the decorative and fine arts that began in the British Isles and reached the rest of Europe and America. It was at its height in Europe and North America from around 1880 to 1920. It first appeared in Japan as the Mingei movement in the 1920s. It represented traditional craftsmanship and frequently featured folk, romantic, or medieval decorative styles. It was anti-industrial and promoted social and economic transformation.

The arts and crafts movement was born out of opposition to the negative impacts of industrialization, the low standing of ornamental arts, and the conditions under which they were created. Their criticism was heightened by the objects they saw at the Great Exhibition of 1851, which they deemed overly elaborate, artificial, and oblivious to the materials’ properties.

The idea that function and beauty should go hand in hand was at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement. Proponents of this approach, like William Morris, aimed to restore the close bond that industrialization had broken between the artist and their creations. By doing this, they emphasized the value of skill and artistry and revitalized the role of the artisan. Their creations were a homage to the handcrafted, savoring the sensual delights of making things and the inherent worth of labor.

Many of the Arts and Crafts movement designers were socialists, including William Morris, John Ruskin, Gustav Stickley, May Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, T. J. Cobden Sanderson, Walter Crane, C.R. Ashbee, Philip Webb, Harry Clarke, Charles Faulkner, and A. H. Mackmurdo.

 The Arts and Crafts movement profoundly influenced the development of the Modern Style, the British manifestation of what would later be known as the Art Nouveau movement. Although American designers generally drew inspiration from the British movement, they were more motivated by mass consumption. They used machines to create streamlined Arts and Crafts works that would sell better. It had a significant impact on European art until Modernism replaced it in the 1930s, and it remained influential for a very long time among designers, urban planners, and creators of crafts.

History of Arts and Crafts Movement

Victorian England Arts and Crafts Movement

The Victorian England Arts & Crafts movement emerged in the mid-19th century from various interconnected schools of thought. It primarily reacted to the social upheavals brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Due to industrialization, many working-class laborers were relocated to cities that needed to be prepared to handle the surge of newcomers. As a result, they were forced to live in subpar housing and endure hard, dangerous jobs that paid poorly and required long hours. Cities also started to experience pollution from an abundance of new factories regularly.

The first global fair, the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, which featured ornamental objects worldwide, set off the first stirrings. Many designers in attendance were disgusted by the poor quality of what was meant to be a celebratory display of global craftsmanship. The pieces were condemned for their hurried construction, excessive attention to adornment that served little purpose, and disregard for the materials utilized.

William Morris, who was greatly influenced by the philosopher John Ruskin (and later Karl Marx), felt that the division of labor enforced by factory manufacturing had estranged designers from their craft. Pre-Industrial Medieval art, renowned for its concern for the natural world, was another passion of Morris and his associates. Together, they established Morris & Co. in 1861, a company that dealt in glassware, textiles, architecture, furniture, and furnishings and produced wallpaper with flowery designs evocative of medieval manuscripts. They compared its vices to the idealistic Gothic period preceding the Renaissance when they believed there were high moral standards, piety, and a healthy, green atmosphere. Both Ruskin and Pugin thought that a country’s moral character could be inferred from its architectural style, and they both saw the Gothic as the pinnacle of human progress.

Morris & Co. promoted worker involvement in all design aspects, emphasizing natural materials and artisan labor. The designs of Morris & Co. emerged as the most frequently displayed at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, effectively characterizing the movement. The growth in popularity of Morris and Co. led to the establishment of Arts and Crafts guilds throughout the United Kingdom. These, like the ancient trade guilds, gave artisans the power to choose prices and standards of quality instead of evil capitalists. The Red House, the family home of William Morris and the first home Philip Webb designed stands as one of the most significant examples of the British Arts and Crafts movement.

American Arts and Crafts Movement

America was aware of British Arts & Crafts since the 1860s, and their concepts were widely circulated via newspapers, periodicals, and journals during the 1880s and 1890s. The socialist overtones of the Movement resonated especially with female reformers during the suffrage struggle, fitting in perfectly with the Progressive Era of American politics. Although American designers generally drew inspiration from the British Movement, they were more motivated by mass consumption. They used machines to create streamlined Arts and Crafts works that would sell better.

 In America, the use of regional materials and styles was a manifestation of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Stone foundations and Spanish mission-style residences became ubiquitous on the West Coast under the direction of Pasadena-based architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene. Their beautifully designed residences in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California, as well as the furniture that goes with them, represent the sophisticated West Coast version of American Arts and Crafts architecture. Architects in New England started to embrace the shingle style, influenced by arts and crafts, as opposed to Queen Anne’s overly ornate Eastlake style. The bungalow style and the Arts and Crafts Movement coexisted throughout the Midwest.

 The movement was also pivotal in creating jewelry, which selected stones utilized for aesthetic objectives and gave rise to significant pieces of art that elevated the jewelry industry and its materials to a higher level of authenticity and quality. Florence Koehler, a prominent figure in jewelry design and education, instructed Chicago Arts and Crafts Society members in jewelry design, metalsmithing, and fine china painting. Koehler frequently drew inspiration for her artwork from historical materials and Renaissance designs. Marie Zimmermann is another jewelry designer who went on to create decorative items for the home and garden. For her creations, Zimmermann looked to places like Greece, China, and Egypt for inspiration.

Arts and Crafts Design Style

The Arts and Crafts movement is defined by its: simplicity and Functionality in Design; structural authenticity; connection to nature and natural Materials; and social and political impact.

Connection to Nature and Natural Materials

The Arts and Crafts Movement strongly connected with nature and natural materials, which was reflected in its designs, ideas, and material selections. Organic shapes and motifs were prevalent in decorative arts, with materials such as stone, metal, and wood taking center stage.

Within this movement, artists sought to replicate the beauty of the natural world in their creations, drawing endless inspiration from its intricate details. They could create sculptures that blended well with their surroundings by embracing nature and its aspects.

Simplicity and Functionality in Design

The Arts & Crafts Movement promoted pragmatism and simplicity in design, prioritising clean lines and sparse decoration. This design concept ensured that products had both use and aesthetic appeal, allowing the natural beauty of the materials to be appreciated the most.

 Arts and Crafts style houses frequently feature open floor plans and understated, unadorned furnishings. Joinery is typically left unobstructed, and the woodwork is retained in an exposed state.

Structural authenticity

The Arts & Crafts Movement prioritized clean lines and minimal adornment in favor of pragmatism and simplicity in design. This design idea ensured that the goods were functional and aesthetically pleasing, maximizing the natural beauty of the materials.

 Houses in the Arts and Crafts style usually have open floor plans and simple, elegant furniture. The joinery is generally left uncovered, and the woodwork is kept that way.

Social and Political Impact

The Arts & Crafts Movement had a significant influence on politics and society. In reaction to the industrialization of the time, it promoted handicrafts and handmade products, changing people’s lives and relationships with the environment. It announced a customized approach and challenged mass production by praising the benefits of conventional techniques and attempting to reacquaint people with the handcrafted process. It also honored the rich tapestry of regional artistic expression diversity. Progressivism was embodied politically by the Arts and Crafts Movement. It promoted social equality and better working conditions by granting people access to beautiful things.

Examples of Arts and Crafts Artwork

Arts and Crafts artwork includes a range of different art mediums and art forms, including painting, stained glass, and architecture.  See examples below:

Arts and Craft Paintings

William Morris Design for Trellis Wallpaper - 1862
William Morris Design for Trellis Wallpaper – 1862

Arts and Craft Stained Glass

Stained glass is dyed during manufacturing by adding metallic salts and is typically further decorated using different techniques. The colored glass is formed into stained glass windows, where tiny fragments are placed to create designs or images. A hard frame supports the windows and is (traditionally) kept together by strips of lead called calms or cames. Yellow stain and painted elements are frequently employed to improve the design. Pot-metal and flashed or ruby glass are two common methods for creating stained glass. When burnt pot-metal glass, the color is fused into the glass itself. Another technique is called “ruby glass,” in which the white body is covered in colored flesh.

Leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement attempted to bring painted stained glass back to its medieval roots in the 19th century, leading to the popularity of stunning stained glass. Numerous designers and artists try to develop fresh looks and methods for this medium. Thus, creating and manufacturing stained glass windows was one of the services offered by the design firm that William Morris co-founded in 1861 (Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co). William Morris and other pioneers of the Arts and Crafts movement constructed the Red House in Bexleyheath, which houses some of the most prominent pieces of Arts and Crafts stained glass.

Arts and Crafts Architecture

The Arts and Crafts movement aimed to restore the handicraft skills that industrialization and mass manufacturing had endangered. William Morris, a designer and poet, was its principal protagonist. The reformation of architecture entailed incorporating indigenous building materials, adhering to traditional building techniques, and eliminating any externally imposed aesthetics. The principles that guided design were functionality, necessity, and simplicity (without superfluous embellishment), as exemplified in the creations of Richard Norman Shaw, William Richard Lethaby, Charles Voysey, and Charles Robert Ashbee.

The Arts & Crafts architectural movement took several forms rather than concentrating on a single building style. Arts-and-Crafts buildings might be best described by the standard American bungalow, a tall, boxy, one- or two-story home with a large porch and a hipped roof with wide overhanging eaves held by massive beams. The Arts & Crafts movement, characterized by its unadorned and rough-hewn aesthetic, was observed to coexist with a diverse range of stylistic preferences in Britain and the United States. Notable among these were the Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Eastlake, Tudor Revival, and Stick Style movements.

In Bexleyheath, London, Red House was created by architect Philip Webb in 1859 for Morris. It has well-proportioned solid forms, pointed window arches, a steep roof, wide porches, brick fireplaces, and wooden furnishings. The masterpiece is a prime example of the early Arts and Crafts style. Webb’s design was based on British vernacular architecture, which expresses the texture of common materials like stone and tiles with an asymmetrical and scenic composition. He eschewed classical architecture and other revivals of historical styles centered on large buildings.

American Craftsman Architecture Style

The architectural, interior design, and decorative arts movement known as American Craftsman or Craftsman style predominated in the United States between 1910 and 1925, coinciding with the emergence of Art Nouveau and Art Deco as the prevailing artistic movements of that era. The movement was especially noteworthy because it allowed women to pursue careers as designers, craftspeople, and business owners. These women created and managed profitable companies, including Tiffany Studios, Pewabic Pottery, Rookwood Pottery, and the Kalo Shops.

Bungalows or 1.5-story homes with covered front porches comprise many Craftsman-style residences. Extended overhanging eaves, low-sloping roofs, exposed beams, stained wood doors and trim, low-sloping roofs, and frequently a combination of painted wood and stucco exteriors characterize this architecture. The house plans have stained glass and numerous windows inside. Ample paneling, built-in nooks and seats, and other woodwork details complete the Craftsman home design style.

Functionality is equally as essential as handcrafted details regarding the interior design of live areas in Craftsman homes. Glass-paneled doors, plenty of shelves, built-in storage, and stained wood window trim enhance the architecture.

Features of Arts and Craft Architecture

Open plan

The Art and Craft movement’s vision of the perfect home featured an open-concept interior designed with a color scheme that echoed the surroundings. Victorian halls were abandoned in favor of open-concept living rooms seamlessly connected to dining rooms and libraries. Interiors with an open layout maximize natural light and minimize partitions. Open-concept interiors frequently use steel structural beams for structural support rather than walls. This allows builders to reduce the number of doors, walls, and other separators, allowing common areas to melt together.

Large Chimneys

Large chimneys are a prevalent architectural element observed in most Craftsman-style residences. They have been a crucial component of interior design for a long time. Fireplaces function as both the room’s center point and mood-setter. Chimney options range from warm wood or natural stone hearths to sleeker, more modern or minimalist designs. The Arts and Crafts Movement in architecture aimed to restore the integrity of traditional craftsmanship and the inherent beauty of locally sourced, naturally occurring materials.

The movement, spearheaded by craftsmen William Morris and Gustav Stickley, was motivated by strict design principles that greatly impacted Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations. As design writer Lisa Frederick put it, the style was defined by “an entire canon of beliefs” and a distinct set of guidelines that guaranteed high-quality design. These strict design rules included, for example, simple forms, straight lines, and tapering columns.

The quartered tile pattern fireplace first appeared during the Arts and Crafts movement. Next to tiles, clinker bricks, which come in various sizes and are partially vitrified, were the most widely used material. They were frequently put traditionally or vertically and occasionally in a herringbone pattern. Some fireplaces were built with more upscale materials like dressed stone or scenic art tiles, but many were trimmed with chunky ashlar stones or local river rock. Birds, flowers, and fruit were among the many common nature motifs; abstract patterns and carvings were confined to narrow borders.

Low-pitched roofs

Arts and Crafts structures often have low-pitched roofs and commonly display exposed beams and rafters. The pitch range for the pitched roof is 47.5–55°, with a maximum span of 4.5–6 m. Eaves are low, extending to the first story in numerous locations, frequently including a cat slide roof on at least one elevation. This type of roof was selected because of its usefulness and attractiveness, contributing to the building’s interior feeling of cosiness and intimacy.


The majority of Craftsman-style homes feature porches with stone porch supports and strong square or round columns. Large porches with obtrusive columns were a hallmark of the style and were considered vital elements. The emphasis on establishing connections with nature and the community is reflected in these porches, welcoming areas for socializing and leisure.

Arts and Craft Architecture Examples

Gamble House

The Gamble House in Pasadena, California, is a renowned example of an American Craftsman dwelling meticulously planned and constructed by the architectural firm Greene and Greene. America’s pinnacle of Arts and Crafts architecture, the three-story, 8,200-square-foot Gamble House, was built between 1908 and 1909. The Greene brothers prioritized using organic elements in their house design, including wood, stone, and glass.

The interaction of the Gamble House’s indoor and outdoor areas is among its most notable characteristics. The Greene brothers skillfully incorporated the house’s wide piece of land into the architecture of their home. Natural light streams into the home through skylights, large windows, and doors. The Gamble House is a veritable sanctuary in Pasadena because of its lovely garden, which was created around it by renowned landscape architect Florence Yoch.

The Gamble House’s interior is just as stunning, with exquisite woodwork and stained glass windows highlighting the Greene brothers’ artistry and expertise. The home boasts a large living room with a fireplace, a dining room big enough to seat twelve people, and a stunning kitchen with contemporary appliances. Every bedroom in the house has its layout and personality. The architectural proportion and detailing merge with the overall landscape design and constructed garden features.

Red House

Red House is situated in Bexleyheath, Southeast London, England and is recognized as an important example of Arts and Crafts architecture. Architect Philip Webb and designer William Morris collaborated on its design in 1859 to build a family home for Morris. Construction was finished in 1860.

Red House was created in a modified Tudor Gothic style. This architectural style is characterized by historicizing features, including cross gables, exposed beam ceilings, steep roofs, and prominent chimneys—all seen in Red House.

The home got its name from the exterior’s use of exposed red brick, which also highlights the natural beauty of the building materials. The unique beauty of raw materials was cherished by Morris and Webb, who believed that they were healthier and far superior to materials manufactured industrially. Red House is structured in an L shape, with rooms arranged for optimal clarity and efficiency. The L-shaped layout promotes an asymmetry characteristic of historic Gothic buildings constructed over extended periods. It enables the house to embrace the gardens as an integral element of the domestic domain.

The interior design was also a part of the holistic, complete concept. Together, Webb, Morris, Jane, his wife, and painter Edward Burne-Jones designed every element of the house, including the built-in cabinets, furnishings, wallpaper, and stained-glass windows, all of which emphasized the ideals of the medieval guild and the beauty of the natural world.

David Parr House

The David Parr House is a terraced home that has been conserved in Cambridge, England. David Parr, the home’s owner, decorated the interior between 1886 and 1926 in the Arts and Crafts style. The house is a prime example of Arts and Crafts architecture mixed with social history from the 20th century.

David Parr was a painter of working-class status who was employed by the decorative arts firm F R Leach & Sons for an extended period. The company’s clientele were Jesus College, Cambridge, and the church of All Saints on Jesus Lane. Parr created hand-painted wall decorations, Gothic sculptures, and stained glass panels to decorate his terraced house in the style of these opulent Arts & Crafts interiors for forty years.

The more significant neo-Gothic movement, which was centered on the highly ornamental and the domestic and is typically seen in churches and large homes across the nation, may also be seen in David Parr’s residence. It is exceptional to discover David Parr’s talent and craftsmanship concealed in such an understated setting, one that so aptly captures the spirit of the Art and Craft movement.

Wightwick Manor

The Victorian-era Wightwick Manor is in Wightwick Bank, a Wolverhampton suburb in the West Midlands region of England. The architect Edward Ould was commissioned to create it in 1887 by Theodore Mander of Mander Brothers, a paint and varnish manufacturer based in Wolverhampton. It is next to the Old Manor, which dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century and was the initial residence on the property.

Wightwick Manor’s design, with its oak-framed whitewashed walls and chimneys made of barley twist brick, gave the impression that it was built five centuries ago instead of just five decades ago. Thomas Mawson’s design for the garden still features large lawns, striking plantings, and distinct yew hedge lines. William Morris and his partners created many interior ideas for the Aesthetic Movement-inspired home. Wightwick Manor was not officially designed by Morris & Co., but all the wallpaper, draperies, and soft furnishings were purchased from the Morris & Co. website or catalog. The house is filled with shards of De Morgan pottery and pre-Raphaelite art.

Arts and Crafts Movement Artists

John Ruskin

  • Born: 8 February 1819 London, England
  • Died: 20 January 1900 (aged 80), Coniston, Lancashire, England
  • Nationality: British

John Ruskin was an art critic and philosopher who disapproved of factory manufacturing methods and their impact on the community. Ruskin maintained the view that the process of creation and design should not be separated, as he considered this detrimental to society and the aesthetic attributes of the object.

John Ruskin’s advocacy of  “truth to nature” as an art critic pushed painters to study the landscape thoroughly and, in doing so, portray the natural world as accurately as possible without romanticizing what they observed. Ruskin was a fervent supporter of Gothic architecture, and many people switched from Neoclassicism to the older Gothic style due to his writings.

Ruskin’s theological education influenced his beliefs, and he held that conceptions of the divine were intrinsically linked to both nature and beauty. Consequently, he contended that accurate and sympathetic depictions of nature and the human body, rather than grandiose religious images, were the most excellent means of communicating the faith. His theories had a significant impact on William Morris as well as the Arts and Crafts movement at large.


William Morris

  • Born: 24 March 1834 Walthamstow, London, England
  • Died: 3 October 1896 (aged 62), Hammersmith, England
  • Education: Exeter College, Oxford
  • Nationality: British

William Morris was the preeminent figure in design during the late 19th century and the primary influencer on the Arts and Crafts movement. The aesthetic and social outlook of the movement originated from concepts he and a group of Oxford University students (including Edward Burne-Jones) formulated in the 1850s. This cohort was united in their ardor for Romantic literature and dedication to societal transformation.

William Morris started experimenting with different crafts and creating interiors and furniture designs. His involvement in both manufacturing and design was a defining characteristic of the Arts and Crafts movement. Ruskin had maintained that it was detrimental to society and the arts to divide the creative process into two separate intellectual acts: designing and manually creating something. Morris expanded on this notion, saying that “without dignified, creative human occupation, people became disconnected from life” and that no work should be done in his workshops until he had personally mastered the necessary skills and materials.

William Morris started producing furniture and ornamental items for the market in 1861. He based his designs on medieval forms and vibrant colors. His products were influenced by the vernacular or household customs of rural Britain, while his patterns were based on flora and animals. A rustic appearance was achieved by purposefully leaving some unfinished to showcase the beauty of the materials and the craftsmanship of the artisans. Morris emphasized nature and form’s simplicity in an effort to bring all the arts together in home décor.

Gustav Stickley

  • Born: March 9, 1858 Osceola, Wisconsin
  • Died: April 21, 1942 (aged 84) Syracuse, New York
  • Nationality: American

Gustav Stickley was a famous American craftsman, printer, and furniture maker who was also a leader in the American Arts and Crafts movement. After visiting England in 1898 and meeting William Morris, he enthusiastically championed the Arts and Crafts Movement in America. Subsequently, he introduced the New Furniture collection, which incorporated the Craftsman furniture aesthetic of opulent forms, visible craftsmanship, and stained oak.

Stickley’s new furniture was a reflection of his principles of material truth, construction honesty, and simplicity. Carefully applied colorants brought life to the unadorned, bare surfaces without masking the wood’s grain, and the exposed mortise and tenon joinery emphasized the works’ structural attributes. The handmade nature of the furniture, which was created at Stickley’s Eastwood, New York, factory, was highlighted by the hammered metal hardware, which was available in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper. The designs were complimented by canvas, dyed leather, terry cloth, and other upholstery materials.

May Morris

  • Born: Mary Morris 25 March 1862 Red House, Bexleyheath, England
  • Died: 17 October 1938 (aged 76) Kelmscott Manor, Kelmscott, England
  • Nationality: British
  • Education: Royal College of Art.

May Morris was among the active women who participated in the arts and crafts movement. The English craftswoman was William Morris’s daughter. She was a well-known designer and embroiderer, yet her father’s accomplishments frequently eclipsed her own. She carried on his revitalization of free-form stitching in the artistic needlework style. Art needlework distinguished itself by emphasizing freehand stitching and subtle shading with silk thread, which was believed to inspire the needle worker’s self-expression. This stood in stark contrast to the mid-19th century home embroidery trend of vibrantly colored Berlin wool work needlepoint and its “paint by numbers” aesthetic.

May Morris assumed the managerial role of the embroidery department at Morris & Co. in 1885 at the tender age of 23. She produced a great deal of designs while working for the company, some of which were mistakenly credited to her father, William Morris. May Morris established the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907 since women were prohibited from joining the Art Workers’ Guild until 1964.

Morris was a jewelry designer as well. Around the turn of the 20th century, she started designing jewelry, most likely influenced by her longtime family friends, the Birmingham jewelers Arthur and Georgie Gaskin.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

  • Born: 7 June 1868 Townhead, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Died: 10 December 1928 (aged 60)
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Education: Glasgow School of Art

Charles Rennie Mackintosh commenced his architectural profession through an apprenticeship under the tutelage of John Hutchison, a local architect. He moved to the larger, more reputable Honeyman and Keppie city practice in 1889. Charles participated in evening sessions at the Glasgow School of Art to supplement his architectural apprenticeship, where he studied a variety of drawing programs.

Once he returned to Glasgow, he designed the Glasgow Herald Building (1894) with state-of-the-art features like a hydro-pneumatic elevator and flooring made of fire-resistant diatomite concrete. Mackintosh pushed for greater artistic autonomy and independence for architects and designers at a public talk on architecture in 1893. Following this, he started experimenting with various decorative forms, creating designs for furniture, metalwork, and graphic arts (such as highly stylized posters and watercolors). He frequently collaborated with Herbert MacNair, a friend and co-worker at Honeyman and Keppie, as well as two other students, Margaret and Frances Macdonald.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh received his largest project to design a new structure for the Glasgow School of Art in 1896. His masterpiece was going to be this. Due to a delay in funding, he was able to fully integrate and modify his original design, which was heavily influenced by Scotland’s previous baronial history. The building’s second half, with its use of materials and technology, has a distinctively C20th-century aesthetic. The new Library was the most spectacular of all the interiors, a multi-level area with timber beams and columns. The uniqueness of Mackintosh’s style was immediately recognized throughout Europe, and he was especially praised and given credit for his designs in Austria—something he would never really achieve at home.

Back in Scotland, publisher Walter Blackie hired Mackintosh to create a large family residence at The Hill House in Helensburgh (1904). The Hill House was distinguished from the outside by its substantial, plain massed forms and sparse adornment, yet the interior rooms were spacious and bright, with thoughtfully chosen color schemes. One of Charles’ most significant supporters, Glasgow entrepreneur Catherine Cranston, gave him almost complete creative control over the tearoom’s furnishings (including the striking high-back chairs), lighting fixtures, wall accents, and silverware.

Harry Clarke

  • Born: 17 March 1889 Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland, U.K.
  • Died: 6 January 1931 (aged 41) Chur, Grisons, Switzerland
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Education: Dublin Metropolitan School of Art

Henry Clarke was a book illustrator and stained glass artist. He was a prominent member of the Irish Crafts and Arts Movement. After his father died in 1921, he and his brother Walter took over his father’s studio, from which he produced more than 130 windows. The artist’s glass is characterized by its exquisite drawing, vibrant color scheme, and creative incorporation of the window leading into the overall pattern. The inspiration for the design came from an early visit to the Cathedral of Chartres and its stained glass. His favorite kind of music was deep blues. In his black-and-white book illustrations, Clarke uses thick lines that are reminiscent of his glass techniques.

Harry Clarke’s visual appeal was a demand for a return to native Irish imagery, and his projections of Catholic figures were entirely indicative of a traditional culture. His contributions extended beyond illustrations in famous publications and museums, as well as to both Protestant and Catholic churches. The period of Irish history encompassing the establishment of the Free State exemplified his professional trajectory.

Clarke’s and other craftsmen’s creations demonstrated a distinct inclination towards the conventional and uncomplicated aspects of natural aesthetics, which was particularly significant during a period of ambiguity surrounding Ireland’s national identity. Both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements had an impact on his work. The French Symbolist movement had a particularly significant influence on his stained glass.

Walter Crane

  • Born: 15 August 1845 Liverpool, Lancashire, England
  • Died: 14 March 1915 (aged 69) Horsham, West Sussex, England
  • Nationality: British

Walter Crane was an illustration and artist from England. He created a wide range of paintings, drawings, children’s books, wallpaper, ceramic tiles, and other decorative arts. Crane’s illustrations are renowned for their spectacular, vibrant details, which occasionally approach the fantastical. In addition to having a distinctly unique style, he was obviously influenced by the illuminated books and wood engravings of the Middle Ages.

The paintings Walter Crane produced for Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene, which was first published in 1590, are frequently cited among his most well-known creations. In these illustrations, Crane’s use of the English Gothic style as a model for his images is evidently influenced by the design components of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Walter Crane became deeply involved with the Socialist movement in the early 1880s, first thanks to his friend William Morris. He made great efforts to incorporate art into every class’s routine. He contributed weekly cartoons to Justice, Commonweal, and The Clarion, three socialist newspapers. Along with his contributions to the founding of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888 and serving as its Master in 1888 and 1889, Crane also invested a great deal of time and effort into the work of the Art Workers Guild. He used the notion of purely decorative design in a variety of mediums, including wallpaper, easel paintings, tiles, stained glass, plaster relief, pottery, and textile patterns.

Carl Larsson


  • Born: 28 May 1853 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Died: 22 January 1919 (aged 65) Falun, Sweden
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Education: Royal Swedish Academy of Arts

Carl  Larsson was a leading figure in the Sweden Arts and Crafts movement. Known for his vivid watercolor portraits of families, he is a symbol of the Arts & Crafts movement. Carl had a hard time adjusting to Principskolan during his early years there. He felt alienated from society due to his sense of social inferiority. However, that was to change when he was promoted to the Art Academy’s lowest department at sixteen years old. He started to gain confidence, and before long, he was a prominent figure in student circles.

Carl Larsson’s life took a dramatic change in 1882 when he relocated to the Scandinavian artists’ colony outside of Paris, Grez-zur-Loing. There, he met Karin Bergöö, the woman who would become his future wife, and experienced a turning point in his career when he gave up pretentious oil painting in favor of watercolors—a fortuitous decision that would have a significant impact on his artistic growth.

In 1883, Carl and Karin tied the knot, and they went on to have eight kids. Adolf Bergöö, Karin’s father, gifted them Lilla Hyttnäs, a modest Sundborn home, in 1888. Carl and Karin collaborated on the artistic project Lilla Hyttnas, where their individualistic and contemporary sensibilities were reflected in the color scheme, interior design, and architecture. Whether it is in his paintings of a meadow in bloom or his kids playing in front of his family’s Sundborn home, his idea of “Swedishness” is deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of the country.

Baillie Scott

  • Born: 23 October 1865 Beards Hill, St Peter’s, Broadstairs, Kent, England
  • Died: 10 February 1945 (aged 79) Elm Grove Hospital, Brighton, Sussex, England
  • Nationality: British

Baillie Scott was an architect and artist who, throughout his career, created in a number of styles, such as Tudor-inspired, Voysey-inspired Arts and Crafts, and Neo-Georgian. Scott, however, made his unique take on the Arts and Crafts movement, which led to a more straightforward architectural style that relied on accurate craftsmanship, material and function honesty, and truth.

Baillie Scott gained recognition for his meticulous attention to detail in the building’s exterior and interior design. In the years preceding World War I, he created furniture, interiors, and other pieces of art for the Deutsche and Dresdener Werkstätten; at this time, his architectural creations were also regularly included in the Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art. Throughout his career, he developed close to 300 buildings.

Charles Robert Ashbee

  • Born: 17 May 1863 Isleworth, United Kingdom
  • Died: 23 May 1942 (aged 79) Sevenoaks, United Kingdom
  • Nationality: British
  • Education: Wellington College, King’s College, Cambridge

Charles Robert Ashbee was a driving force behind the Arts and Crafts movement, which drew its cooperative structure from the collectivism of William Morris and its craft ethic from the writings of John Ruskin. Among Charles’ specialities were metalworking, furniture design, textile design, jewellery design, and other items in the Arts and Crafts and Modern (British Art Nouveau) styles.

In 1888, Ashbee established the Guild of Handicrafts, a collective of self-taught artisans producing jewellery, furniture, metalwork, and leather products. The guild’s most famous designer, Ashbee, created a refined aesthetic that significantly deviated from Victorian customs. It was distinguished by its rounded shapes and long handles, which were usually embellished with enamel disks or semiprecious cabochons.

Dirk van Erp

  • Born: 1860, Netherlands
  • Died: 18 July 1933 (age 73 years), Fairfax, California, United States
  • Nationality: Dutch-American

Dirk van Erp was a metalsmith and coppersmith. He was renowned for making lamps out of copper with mica shades and other items out of copper, like bowls, vases, and lamps. His wrought copper and mica table lamps, which are deceptively basic in appearance but intricate in craftsmanship and attention to detail, were meant to be more than just reading lights; they establish the perfect, subdued tone for a serene decor. He was a well-known representative of Oakland and San Francisco, California, in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Frances Macdonald

  • Born: 24 August 1873 Staffordshire, England
  • Died: 12 December 1921 (aged 48) Glasgow, Scotland
  • Nationality: Scottish

Frances Macdonald was a meticulous and driven metalworker, watercolor painter, and needlework artist. Working closely with her sister on several occasions, she created a unique style influenced by Christianity, symbolism, mysticism, and Celtic motifs. The pieces are a commentary on and representations of the New Woman in relation to secular stylistic choices.

Scholars draw attention to MacDonald’s portrayals of women as free from popular stereotypes of the day, like the femme fatale. Her subjects are portrayed as either fully or nearly nude, sometimes with angular, elongated forms or greenish skin. Critics often rejected her work as too ornamental throughout her lifetime. Feminist interpretations of her writings, however, affirm how she uses style.

Frank Lloyd Wright

  • Born: June 8, 1867 Richland Center, Wisconsin, U.S.
  • Died: April 9, 1959 (aged 91) Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
  • Education: University of Wisconsin–Madison

Frank Lloyd Wright was a designer, architect, author, and teacher. He gave lectures on the philosophical concerns of the movement at Hull House, where the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society was established in 1897, and he was one of its founding members. Throughout his 70-year creative career, he created more than 1,000 structures. Wright was a significant figure in the twentieth-century architectural movements. His buildings and the hundreds of apprentices he trained through the Taliesin Fellowship had an impact on architects all over the world. Wright espoused the idea of “organic architecture,” which is a design that is in balance with both the natural world and humanity.

Henry Chapman Mercer

  • Born: June 24, 1856 Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Died: March 9, 1930 (aged 73) Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Nationality: American

Henry Chapman Mercer was an architect, archaeologist, and author who spearheaded the Arts and Crafts movement, which promoted the handcrafting of ornamental goods. Many of Mercer’s varied endeavors were driven by his commitment to preserving the past. He started working as an archaeologist as a young man, digging Indian sites, publishing academic tracts, and exhibiting at the new Museum of Science and Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Mercer’s inclination towards conservation drove him to safeguard historic structures in Bucks County and create concrete molding for fireproof construction. In the industrial period, hand-made tools and artifacts were quickly becoming extinct, so he gathered them.

Henry Mercer considered craft, anthropology, and art to be inseparable. In order to comprehend a culture, one needs to experience its products physically. In Pennsylvania, he found himself captivated by German and Moravian settlers. The first of his several cast-concrete constructions, a pottery for producing tiles in the Moravian style, was constructed in 1898. That business expanded into a massive U-shaped structure that is still standing today and is covered with intricate tilework. Tile stoves, altarpieces, fireplaces, murals, and paving stones—all as exquisite as the finest medieval tiles—can be seen throughout America today.

Joseph Southall

  • Born: 23 August 1861 Nottingham, England
  • Died: 6 November 1944 (aged 83) Birmingham, England
  • Nationality: English
  • Education: Birmingham School of Art

Joseph Edward Southall was an Arts and Crafts-affiliated English painter. One of the last representatives of Romanticism in the visual arts, Southall led the Birmingham Group of Artist-Craftsmen, which served as a crucial conduit between the Slade Symbolists at the turn of the century and the later Pre-Raphaelites. He was a leading figure in the nineteenth and early twentieth-century revival of tempera painting.

Joseph Southall was a superb portrait and landscape painter, but his body of work is primarily composed of exquisite paintings of romantic and mythological themes. Southall’s decision to work in egg tempera was influenced by early Italian painting, which made his trip to Italy in 1883 crucial.

Southall’s Arts and Crafts philosophy, which valued the physical process of production as highly as the act of design, greatly influenced his choice of material. Egg tempera allowed him the chance to create his materials by hand in addition to offering the luminosity and jewel-like quality that the Pre-Raphaelites (who never themselves mastered the technique) had so desperately coveted. He even raised his hens in order to obtain the necessary egg yolks.

Arts and Crafts vs. Art Nouveau

The emergence of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements coincided with the rise of industrialization, which posed a threat to traditional forms of craftsmanship and art. The Industrial Revolution had a profound social and economic impact on Europe, resulting in the mass production of commodities and the industrialization of labor. Because mass-produced, less expensive goods were replacing traditional kinds of handicrafts, this development posed a challenge to them. In reaction to this tendency, a lot of artisans and artists started looking back in time for ideas, hoping to bring back age-old methods and produce real, significant works of art.

The Art Nouveau movement was distinguished by its incorporation of organic motifs and forms, including vines, flowers, and foliage. Art Nouveau painters used organic shapes and colors to evoke a sense of life and energy in their works of expressive, inventive, and evocative art. The utilization of novel materials to create innovative and distinctive designs, such as iron, glass, and ceramics, was another aspect of the movement.

The Arts and Crafts movement, on the other hand, was distinguished by its emphasis on age-old crafts like weaving, metallurgy, and woodworking. Using traditional materials and methods, Arts and Crafts artists created beautiful and practical objects in an attempt to produce art that was real, useful, and related to nature. The movement was distinguished by its opposition to industrialization, which it believed to be a danger to the environment and traditional craftsmanship.

The Art Nouveau style was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and its adherents created some very remarkable and original art. Several of the most famous pieces of art from the era, including the jewelry of Rene Lalique and the glass designs of Emile Galle, were produced as a result of the movement’s use of organic forms and novel materials. The decorative arts, graphic design, and architecture of the era were all greatly influenced by Art Nouveau, which also encouraged many artists to experiment with new mediums.

In contrast, the Arts and Crafts movement created some of the 20th century’s most enduring and significant pieces of art. The movement’s emphasis on natural materials and traditional methods of construction resulted in the production of some of the era’s most aesthetically pleasing and practical items, including William Morris pottery and Gustav Stickley furniture. Modern architecture and design were greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which also encouraged many artists to experiment with novel forms of expression that were grounded in skill and tradition.

For more information on Art Nouveau, see our full guide on the Art Nouveau Art Movement.

Arts and Crafts vs. American Craftsman Style

The aesthetic emphasis and design philosophy of Arts and Crafts influenced the American Craftsman home style. Inspired by the European Industrial Revolution, the British Arts and Crafts movement began in the 1870s under the direction of artist William Morris. Natural materials and artisan handicrafts were valued over mass-produced goods and techniques. As an antithesis to the Industrial Revolution, which led to an increase in mass-produced furniture, both designs contained natural materials.

 Craftsman-style architecture rose to prominence in the United States in the early 20th century. Greene and Greene and Gustav Stickley, among other architects, supported it by advocating for well-built, reasonably priced homes that showcased expert craftsmanship. The bungalow is an outstanding example of the Craftsman architectural style. There were numerous varieties of this American-built structure, some with additional levels. Its open floor concept is what first attracted people to it. Considering that most residences of the time had their particular purpose rooms segregated from one another, this was a significant development.

Craftsman-style architecture emphasizes functionality, robustness, and longevity rather than ornate embellishments, which stands in contrast to the Victorian architectural style. Victorian-style houses usually have two or three stories and are characterized by scalloped shingles, encircling porches, steep gable roofs with ornamental trim, turrets, towers, and dormers. On the other hand, buildings built in the Craftsman style usually have one to two stories, low-pitched gable roofs, and simple, horizontal exterior and interior lines.

Another distinction between the American craftsman style and art and crafts is that the American movement focused more on educating laborers to become artisans and on enhancing homes with the movement’s sophisticated aesthetics. This would improve the lives of individuals and contribute to the betterment of society. This was less about opposing industrialization than it was about educating people to become better consumers of it by getting them involved in home décor. Compared to its British counterpart, it was arguably more successful and realistic in this aspect.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Arts and Crafts Movement

When did the Arts and Crafts Movement Take Place?

The Arts and Crafts movement occurred during the late Victorian period, from the 1860s to 1920. Modernism ultimately supplanted the movement, which ultimately declined during World War I.

In What Areas Of Art Was The Arts And Crafts Movement Found?

Art and Craft began in the decorative arts, primarily encompassing interior design and architecture (primarily for churches). However, by the late 19th century, this artistic movement had spread beyond its original domain, influencing various other disciplines including stained glass, metalwork, woodwork, leatherwork, furniture, lacemaking, embroidery, weaving, jewelry, and ceramics.

The Arts And Crafts Movement Came About As A Reaction To What Event?

The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction against the industrial revolution’s dehumanizing impacts.

What Was The Main Goals And Characteristics Of The Arts And Crafts Movement In Architecture?

The primary objectives of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the field of architecture were to advocate for simplicity, the utilization of natural materials, and meticulous craftsmanship. It promoted the resurgence of old-world handicrafts and the incorporation of art into daily life as a means of mitigating the detrimental impacts of industrialization.

Crafts and Arts meticulously integrated all facets of ornamental design and craftsmanship into its architectural composition. These houses have low-pitched roofs, open floor plans, exposed beams, large porches, paned windows, and boxy architecture. This architectural style stood out due to its unique architectural features, use of premium, natural materials, and impressive craftsmanship.

What Is an Arts And Crafts House

An Arts and Crafts style house is usually low to the ground and has a front that might be symmetrical or asymmetrical. They naturally require little maintenance if appropriately planned, and they are made to use space inexpensively and efficiently. They frequently have several chimneys and a noticeable “sheltering roof.” Windows abound; however, they are commonly composed of tiny panes.

What Influenced The Work Of William Morris?

The works of John Ruskin, the art critic, greatly impacted William Morris. Morris took up Ruskin’s ideas, which advocated for a return of traditional craftsmanship, elevating craftspeople to the rank of artists and producing art that should be accessible to all, independent of artistic mediums. He also rejected the tawdry industrial fabrication of decorative arts and architecture. Ruskin gained notoriety in Victorian society by supporting the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Morris started to write more poetry, much in the vein of John Keats and Ruskin, and he began to dedicate more time to it.

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