Christopher Dresser: The People’s Designer 1834-1904

ISBN: 9781851494552
Artist(s): Christopher Dresser
Author(s): Harry Lyons
Format: hardback
Year published: 2005
Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club
Publisher Location: Woodbridge, Suffolk
Total Pages: 320
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour and black & white throughout.


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Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) was a Victorian from a humble provincial background, who pushed back the frontiers of class privilege to claim his place as the first designer of the industrial age with the household in mind. Lyons believes that the legacy of Dresser has still to unfold.

Dresser is already well appreciated for his silver-plated work and ceramics, but even in these fields there must be many more, as yet unnamed, companies that used Dresser’s designs. Why is it, Lyons asks, that Dresser is reported as a designer of silver in 1876 by a Chicago newspaper, a full two years before his ‘ground-breaking’ designs for Hukin & Heath were even launched? Why was Dresser invited to be a member of the International Jury at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, 1876 – surely not on the basis of his work for Minton and Wedgwood alone? We already know that he exhibited porcelain in the London Exhibition of 1871, but what did these pieces look like and where are they now?

In this extensively researched book on Dresser, Lyons seeks to answer these questions as well as examining the overlooked areas of Dresser’s work in textiles, wallpapers and graphic design.

Lyons also suggests firms that he believes manufactured Dresser designs. Lyons reaches out to help the collector find the Dresser wares to suit every budget. The trick, says Lyons, is recognising Dresser’s hand, and trying to distinguish it from his many followers. ‘Once you get your eye in, there is a strength and a feeling of satisfaction, what is unmistakably “Dresser” and distinguishable from the best of others who worked in similar styles.’ To assist the reader, Lyons has included in his book a ‘dictionary’ of Dresser’s designs, in similar vein to Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament.


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