Antique original 1895 Archibald Knox Liberty & Co Arts and Crafts hammered copper mirror.
A superb and finely crafted original 1895 English Arts and Crafts period hammered copper oval mirror believed to be designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co; the hammered copper bezel frame featuring copper cabochons depicting Celtic symbols of two distinct styles.
The design of these handcrafted pieces largely took inspiration from medieval and celtic designs and crafts, as these were believed to be inherently purer and closer to nature – and this was an ideal that lay at the very heart of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Knox was an independent designer who started working with Liberty’s in 1890 and soon became their chef designer. As such it’s believed he was instrumental in creating the designs for a range of mirrors Liberty’s sold at that time. Knox In fact, had many talents, helping to design both ornamental and utilitarian objects with ease. From Silver and Pewter tea sets, to mirrors, watercolour paintings, graphic design and even bank cheques, Knox’s talents were limitless. He was also known to have worked closely with Mary Watts whose jewellery designs were heavily influenced by Celtic symbolism and culture. As such the use of raised cabochons, and with the addition of fine enamelling work, transcended the boundary between jewellery and other more decorative objects such as mirrors and picture frames; such was the melting pot of cultures and artistic collaboration at Liberty’s at that time.
And all this can be evidenced in this mirror, and other mirrors like it. And whilst some do sport decorative enamelling this mirror is truer to the aesthetic ideal of the movement relying just on the purity of its form.
As far as we can tell it still has the original mirror glass, noted for its weight, thickness and edge profile and it looks like the main copper façade has been recently polished, so one would expect the patina to mellow and deepen into a richer copper colour as time passes.
The back, however, is in untouched original condition and in some respects is as beautiful as the front! It could of course be renovated, but I personally think the obvious age shown in the back of the mirror is part of its charm. It also retains the original "Liberty London" plaque.
Liberty & Co.
Liberty & Co, also known as ‘Liberty of London’, or just ‘Liberty’s’ has been a part of British retail history for nearly 150 years. It opened its doors in 1875 and from an early age established itself as one of the most fashionable places to shop in London.
The brainchild of Arthur Lasenby Liberty, Liberty & Co was originally created to sell ornaments, fabric and objets d’art from Japan. Yet, it wasn’t long before Liberty’s expanded, buying multiple other shopping spaces in the street and establishing its world-famous ‘Eastern Bazaar’ on the lower ground floor. In 1884, the costume department was added, where they created in-house apparel to rival the fashion capital Paris.
Yet, Liberty & Co was more than just a luxury shop, it was also a major hub for both the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau. As such it vastly contributed to the patronage of up and coming jewellery artists, furniture makers and designers, which included those who were involved within these movements.
From these collections, Liberty of London created its own esoteric and idiosyncratic style. In fact, even after the Arts and Crafts movement ended (and Modernism started), Liberty’s continued to create stunning jewellery collections using these motifs. Even today they create Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts revival jewellery inspired by their archival pieces from yesteryear.
Liberty not only promoted the Arts and Crafts movement it embraced every aspect of its ideology. From social and artistic reform and progression to the simple and cherished belief that anyone, no matter what their background or profession, could produce things of beauty – and that beauty still endures to this day.
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Antique original Liberty & Co Arts and Crafts hammered copper mirror
Copper and wood
Antique, Arts and Crafts
Era or date of production
H52 X W63 X D3cm
Number of pieces included in price
Very good antique condition
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