From the Vault: Studies in Design, 1876

November 18, 2015, 11:12 am

Among the Redwood Library’s esteemed holdings is a wonderful collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century pattern books. These books range in style and medium from eighteenth century needlepoint designs, to nineteenth century iron works. One of the perks of working in Special Collections is the daily occurrence of finding something “new.” Studies in Design by Dr. Christopher Dresser, published in 1876, is one of those “new” finds in the collection that is really jaw dropping.

Leafing through this folio the Arabic and Italian influences are palpable (for more, see our post about Women’s Dresses).

This volume also proves an interesting insight into what may be the very early signs of what later became the Art Deco movement.

Putting this volume into context makes the images inside even more remarkable. Dresser had his book published in 1876 – the same year that the Battle of Little Bighorn took place, Alexander Graham Bell received his patent for the telephone, and Colorado was admitted as the 38th state. Nationally, the country was suffering from a brief depression, fighting through Reconstruction, and also giving rise to the Gilded Age for which Newport is so famous.  This beautiful volume is available for research and viewing with a reference appointment.

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