Baillie Scott, an architect and designer, was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement around the turn of the century. This chair is one of a pair manufactured by the Dresdner Werkstätten für Handwerkskunst (a German arts and crafts workshop formed on the ideals of the British movement) for display in a women’s sitting room at its 1903 exhibition. The chair’s tall plank back and high curved arms draw on British vernacular traditions, showing the strong regionalism in Baillie Scott’s work, while its planar abstraction is wholly modern. The design of pewter, ivory, and mother–of–pearl set into the back is a modern interpretation of a medieval decorative motif, a time period that Arts and Crafts designers drew on for inspiration. According to Hermann Muthesius, architect and German cultural attaché to Britain at the time, “In the case of Baillie Scott, we step into the ranks of the poets among the British domestic architects who belong exclusively to the north. . . . The basic mood of Baillie Scott’s creative thought and work is a tender and intimate, but refreshingly healthy, peasant poetry.”
Gallery label from Shaping Modernity 1880–1980, March 28, 2012–September 8, 2013.