THE Victoria and Albert Museum’s main autumn exhibition, opening this month, is devoted to a retrospective of Christopher Dresser, the pioneering designer who anticipated many of the major design styles of the 20th century. It is timed to coincide with the centenary of his death in 1904.
Dresser, who was sent to London at 13 years of age to study at the Government Design School, became a professor before setting up his own design studio at the youthful age of 26. He went on to become one of the country's most successful independent industrial designers fully embracing the potential of the machine age to produce beautiful objects efficiently and working for over 50 manufacturers in a variety of media.
Featuring around 239 objects, the show uses silver, metalwork, furniture, ceramics, textiles, wallpaper and watercolours to examine the whole spectrum of Dresser's career in two parts. The first section is devoted to his early work from the 1850s to 1876 while the second is given over to the much more minimalist designs that he produced after his revelatory trip to Japan in 1876. Among the key exhibits will be a group of the celebrated geometric teapots that Dresser designed for James Dixon and Sons in the late 1870s, one of which is pictured, together with a picture of the great man, right.
The exhibition, which opens on September 9 and runs until December 5, has been organised by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York and is curated by the decorative arts specialist Michael Whiteway, well known to many Antiques Trade Gazette readers for his shop in Kensington Church Street. There is also an accompanying book, Christopher Dresser: a Design Revolution, edited by Mr Whiteway with contributions from seven leading specialists. For further information contact 020 7942 2000.