Various places: 1903-1910, 1952-1968. Oblong folio measuring 7.5 x 10.5 inches, original half diapered black calf over pebbled green cloth boards, spine ruled in gilt, black calf cylindrical pencil-holder attached to lower board, original elastic band (mended) attached to upper board, all edges speckled red. Front pastedown bears a calligraphic ink ownership inscription (“Leon: B. Timson / July 1903”), the bookplate of “RcF” in Morningthorpe, and a Reeves & Sons stationer’s ticket (“Made of Whatman’s Paper”) beside their Ludgate Hill showroom stamp. Forty-five illustrated pages of pencil sketches, pen-and-ink drawings, and watercolors, including one pen-and-ink sketch of stained glass windows on older paper tipped to the final pastedown. One of Enid Timson’s watercolors cleanly excised at rear. Corners bumped, pencil holder and spine ends heavily rubbed.
Beautifully executed sketchbook of historic ornament based primarily on artifacts in the Victoria & Albert Museum, containing thirty pages of pencil, ink, and watercolor sketches by English art student Leonard Timson (1879-1936). The range of ornamental details is wide, covering sculpture, ceramic, and stained glass designs, from a sixth-century Coptic frieze, to thirteenth-century Italian mosaics in porphyry and marble heightened with gold, to colorful seventeenth-century Spanish tiles. Most of the designs are marked “S.K.M.” for the South Kensington Museum, formally renamed the Victoria & Albert in 1899: most notably, a fully-finished pen and watercolor painting of the stained glass window “The Adoration of the Magi,” which came to South Kensington from the Cathedral of Cortona in Tuscany. Outside the galleries, Timson records local architectural and sculptural details from Cobham Church in Kent, Fairford Church in Gloucestershire (famous for its stained glass), St. Mary’s in Buckinghamshire, and even, farther afield, the entrance gates to the Antwerp Zoo. Timson’s style of sketching and his annotations are indebted to the work of Richard Glazier, a member of the South Kensington Circle (along with Owen Jones and Henry Cole), and head of the Manchester Municipal School of Art. Glazier’s 1899 Historic Ornament was the most widely assigned art textbook in England in the early twentieth century, and Timson was clearly immersed in it. His sketchbook imitates Historic Ornament in lettering, layout, shorthand (including “S.K.M.”), and choice of subjects. In the National Art Competition of 1904, while a student at Battersea Polytechnic Institute, Timson won a bronze medal “for his well-executed design for a panel in the Italian Renaissance style,” perhaps inspired by the subjects in this sketchbook; his stained-glass work would later appear in an exhibition at the Royal Academy, and he would pursue a career as a draughtsman. Toward the end of the sketchbook, Leonard’s daughter Enid Timson (1906-1994), an avocational painter, contributes thirteen pages of her own, including six full-page watercolors. While her work is less accomplished than her father’s, her watercolors of the Ponte Vecchio and other Florentine scenes have their own charm. A remarkable ornamental sketchbook, testifying to the influence of the South Kensington Circle in early twentieth-century English art education.