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Leonard Timson. Early twentieth-century
sketchbook of historic ornament.
Various places:
1903-1910. Oblong folio, original green cloth
boards, calligraphic ink ownership inscription:
“Leon: B. Timson / July 1903.” 44 pages of pencil
sketches, pen-and-ink drawings, and watercolors,
including thirteen later pages by Timson’s daughter
and one pen-and-ink sketch of stained glass
windows on older paper tipped to the final
pastedown. $3500.
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, executed between 1952 and 1968.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 art education.
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