Selwyn Image

Selwyn Image (17 February 1849, Bodiam, Sussex – 21 August 1930, London) was a British artist, designer, writer and poet associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. He designed stained-glass windows, furniture, embroidery, and was an illustrator of books. Image was the seventh Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford from 1910 to 1916.

Selwyn Image
Selwyn Image 1900.jpg
Selwyn Image 1900
Born17 February 1849
Bodiam, Sussex
Died21 August 1930(1930-08-21) (aged 81)
Known forStained glass design, book-illustration, writing, poetry
MovementArts and Crafts Movement
SpouseJanet Image

Early life and educationEdit

Selwyn Image was born in Bodiam, Sussex, on 17 February 1849 to the Reverend John Image (c. 1802–1878), vicar of Bodiam and Mary Maxwell (née Hinds c. 1807–1857).[1] He attended Marlborough College and New College, Oxford, in 1868 where he studied drawing under John Ruskin.[2] Intending on entering the clergy and following his father as Vicar of Bodiam, Image took Holy Orders at the age of 24. He was ordained deacon in 1872, and priest the next year. He was a curate at Tottenham and later at St. Anne's, Soho. Image began studying art with A. H. Mackmurdo and Ruskin's assistant, Arthur Burgess in 1880.[3] Image eventually abandoned the clergy in 1882.[4][5]

The Century Guild of Artists and Art Workers' GuildEdit

He was associated with the Century Guild of Artists in London, founded by prominent architect and designer A. H. Mackmurdo and Herbert Percy Horne. With Mackmurdo, Image established the Guild's workshops which produced furniture, wallpaper, primarily domestic design such as furniture, stained glass, metalwork and decorative painting. Image was co-editor of the Guild's magazine, The Hobby Horse, from 1886 to 1892.[4] He was an active member of the Art Workers' Guild in London and became a Master of the guild in 1900.[5]

Stained glass designerEdit

One of Image's first stained glass designs, The Seasons, manufactured by James Powell & Sons, was exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition in 1878. Image's designs were influenced by the work of William Morris. Image's early designs, composed of individual figures against a floral background, was inspired by Morris's previous work. Image described one of Morris & Co. earliest stained glass commissions, one of a pair of two-light windows (1862) depicting the four archangels at St. Michael and All Angels church in Brighton 'as one of the finest modern windows I know of.'" The early window, designed by Ford Madox Brown was the inspiration for Image's Archangel window at St Mary's Church in Mortehoe.[6]

The basis of Image's stained glass design was a "simplicity of treatment, not only in figure drawing and ornament—which closely match his contemporary graphic work, such as for the Century Guild The Hobby Horse—but also in the use of leading. In an article published in The Hobby Horse in 1890, Image expounded his principles of stained glass design, emphasizing that qualities of 'richness and brilliance of effect ... in no small measure depend upon the management of the leads'".[6]

Image and well-known stained glass artist Christopher Whall met in the 1880s and became lasting friends. Whall and Image were among the earliest pioneers and important contributors to the Arts and Crafts Movement. Image designed fewer than thirty windows during his career, but a number of cartoons (designs) were displayed at Arts and Crafts Exhibitions. Several of Image's designs were illustrated in books and magazines where Image acquired a wide following. Christopher Whall included one of Image's cartoons in his influential manual Stained Glass Work (1905), "as an example of the 'simple and severe' style of drawing best suited to the medium."[6]

Image was influential in the work of a number of stained glass artists, including two women: Mary J. Newill (1860–1947) and Helen Coombe (1864–1937). Mary J. Newill was a talented artist-craftsman who trained at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art in the 1880s and 1890s. Helen Coombe (1864–1937) was a student of Image at the Slade School of Fine Art and her design for the Mary and Martha window was displayed at the 1896 Arts and Crafts Exhibition and showed the influence of Image as artistic mentor.[6]

Writer, lecturer and poetEdit

Image was an influential writer on design and the first Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Oxford from 1910 to 1916.[5]

Between December 1887 and February 1888, Image gave a series of four lectures on Modern Art at Willis' Rooms. Oscar Wilde attended at least one of this series, and reviewed the second lecture in The Sunday Times on 25 January 1888.[7] Image was also a close associate of Arthur Symons and may have shared his then mistress Muriel (Edith Broadbent).[8]

Image published a number of essays, contributed introductions and chapters to scholarly publications, and published a poetry collection, Poems and Carols in 1894.

Other workEdit

Image's line-block design for the cover of the inaugural 1884 issue of the Hobby Horse, the Guild's publication, is widely known. Other celebrated works include the design of embroideries for the Royal School of Needlework and bookbindings such as that for the novel Stefania (1893).[9]

In 1900, Image was hired as a designer for the Glasgow furniture manufacturer, Wylie and Lochead.[5]

Death and legacyEdit

Grave of Selwyn Image in Highgate Cemetery

Image died at Holloway on 21 August 1930 and was buried on the eastern side of Highgate Cemetery.[4] Two years after his death, selected poems and later his letters, edited by Mackmurdo was published.[9]

Stained glass workEdit

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Image, Selwyn (1894). Poems and Carols (1894). London: E. Matthews. p. 47.
  • Image, Selwyn (1929). Some Reflections on the Art of Thomas Rowlandson & George Morland. London: Print Collector's Club.
  • Mackmurdo, Arthur Heygate, ed. (1932). The Poems of Selwyn Image (1st ed.). London: Elkin, Matthews and Marrot.[4]
  • Poems (1932), edited by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo[4]
  • Mackmurdo, Arthur Heygate, ed. (1932). Selwyn Image Letters. London: Grant Richards Pronto Limited. p. 219.
  • Miles, Alfred H. (2011). The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century Edward Hayes Plumptre to Selwyn Image. BiblioLife. p. 440. ISBN 978-1113886460.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jones, Helen Caroline (2004). "Image, Selwyn (1849–1930)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34093. Retrieved 22 July 2018. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "Selwyn Image (Biographical Details)". British Museum. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  3. ^ Tildesley, Matthew B. (2007). The century guild hobby horse and Oscar Wilde: a study of British little magazines, 1884–1897 (PhD). Durham University.
  4. ^ a b c d e Catalogue of A. H. Mackmurdo and the Century Guild Collection. William Morris Gallery Walthamstow. 1967. p. 48.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. 2012. p. 1344. ISBN 978-0199923052. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cormack, Peter (2015). Arts & Crafts Stained Glass. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. p. 354. ISBN 978-0300209709.
  7. ^ Tildesley, Matthew B. (July 2010). "The Sketches of Dorian Gray : Oscar Wilde and The Century Guild Hobby Horse". The Wildean (37).
  8. ^ Freeman, Nicholas, ed. (2017). Arthur Symons, 'Spiritual Adventures'. Cambridge, UK: The Modern Humanities Research Association. pp. 57–88. ISBN 9781781886137.
  9. ^ a b "OVERVIEW Selwyn Image (1849—1930) designer". Oxford Index. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Brownies". Victoria and Albert Museum Collections. Retrieved 22 July 2018.