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    A Note on the Arts and Crafts Schools of Germany Essay

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    Tive and therefore charming small canvas by D. W. Try on, “Evening—Septem ber”; J. Francis Murphy shows a small work delightfully interpretative entitled “Showery Day”; J. Alden Weir is seen at his best in “Autumn,” and William Lathrop in “A Stretch of Salt Marsh land.” Emil Carlsen’s “Wood Interior” has decorative quality aside from pro nounced beauty both of theme and treat ment; Charles H. Davis’s “Summer in the Hills” combines classical spirit with modern spontaneity. Among the painters of winter, the interpreters of sunlit frosty air—Schofield, Redfield and Gard ner Symons—are as usual to the fore. Daniel Garber’s prize winning picture shows, not only admirable transcription of the subtleties of light and air, but feeling for design and a fine sense of color.

    Leonard Ochtman, Willard Met calf, Ben Foster, Bolton Jones and Hobart Nichols send notable canvases. That subject is of less importance than treatment is manifested by two paint ings, one of a “Sow and Pigs” in a barn yard by Horatio Walker, the other of “Porpoise” leaping through a wave, by Clifford W. Ashley—each individual in treatment but equally engaging in effect. Excellent examples of still life paint ing are shown. Chase sends another brilliant painting of fish, which almost straightway upon the opening of the ex hibition found a purchaser; H. R. Riten berg, Alice Worthington Ball, Hugh Breckenridge, Carl Schmitt and Aline Solomons each contributes a study which helps to uplift the average of merit. Following the custom of past seasons the Corcoran Gallery has made purchases from this exhibition for its permanent collection acquiring the following seven works before the doors were open to the public: “My Daughter” by F. W. Ben son, “Incoming Tide” by R. N.Brooke, “Woods in Winter” by John F. Carlson, “Late Autumn Moonrise” by Ben Foster, “Cape Porpoise” by Chauncey F. Ryder and “Autumn” by J. Alden Weir.


    Casual American who wanders JL into a room labeled “Kunst-Gewerbe Schule” in one of the many German in dustrial exhibitions, looks with idle if ad miring eye at the cases of jewelry, etch ings and embroidery, vainly tries to puzzle out the signs on the wall refer ring to “Metal Arbeit,” “Druckerei” and Sticherei,” and passes on ignorant of the fact that he has seen the results of one of the most remarkable elements of the complex German school system. The details of this system differ in each of the several cities of Germany, but in the main the plan is the same.

    It is one which endeavors to select by searching examination young, ambitious and talented artisans, and to train them under instructors of the highest grades of artistic knowledge and technical skill. The time given to this training varies, though it is rarely less than four years, and in some cases is prolonged for six or seven. The candidates come from a variety of sources, many of them from the Craft or “Gewcrbe” schools, estab lished to train the lads that have al ready had some artistic foundation in schools for “Lchrling” as apprentices. The “Lchrling” schools give a little drawing with the elements of a general education to the apprentice who has left the “Folk” school at fourteen. The “Gewerbc” or Craft school gives much more in the way of artistic workman- ship and practical skill, but it is re served for the “Kunst-Gcwcrbc” school to take the pick of the young people, those with the keenest artistic sense and ability, and train them to produce work of the highest technical order and excel lence. Numbers do not count in these schools—one rarely finds an attendance of more than two hundred or so in the day school and perhaps as many more in special and evening classes, while the faculties are large, often twenty-five to thirty professors and assistants giving lessons at different times throughout the week.

    Practically every good sized German city has one of these “Arts and Crafts” schools. Many, naturally, are in build- ings which date back a number of years, but the ambition of every director is to have a new building, and those who have realized this aim see their respective schools housed in beautiful structures, complete with modern conveniences. But though many of the older schools are in buildings lacking some of the things their heads desire, it must not be understood that they arc ill-equipped. On the con trary, the studios and work-shops often represent an investment of many thou sands of dollars, which the state aims to draw interest on, through an increasing demand for the work of German design ers, reproduced in a multitude of busy German factories. A composite picture, one which shall aim to show at a glance just what a “Kunst-Gewerbe” school is like, is of necessity difficult to draw. Like all composites it will not be true of any one school, though generally faithful to the type. What follows, however, is an at tempt in this direction. See then a big building with central covered court filled with cases of stu dents’ work, a permanent exhibition of the art product of the school.

    Ranged round will be the studios—great rooms, with huge studio windows and studio chairs, model stands, and racks for drawing boards. The rooms for cast drawing and for modeling will have the walls hung deep with plaster casts, while in the adjacent halls will be scores more of all sizes from a small bust to a great group of some Greek master. There will be a library with some hundreds of books on art, and some thousands of plates, together with the current art magazines, German, English, French and Italian; then will come a dozen or so studios with equip ments of drawing tables of various kinds adapted to the needs of the students of life drawing, mechanical drawing, still life painting, design, architectural draw ing and so on. Each of the class studios will have adjoining it the Professor’s studio—a good size room, with fine light and all the “properties” accumulated by a teacher, active in the pursuit of his spe cial subject out of class hours. Another range of studios has yet to be visited—the “work-rooms,” a half dozen in all, of good size and proportion, each elaborately equipped for some special branch of work, metal, ceramic, textile, decorative painting, sculpture, lithogra- phy, book-binding, and the like.

    (Each school differs in regard to these special practical courses.) Again we will find case after case filled with models and again the professor’s studio. If we are invited into the latter we shall sec beau tiful examples of the handicraft of this accomplished teacher. And the students? Naturally the greater number arc found in the studios where arc taught the fundamentals. In the earlier years of the course the rooms will be full of men and women, drawing from cast or life, painting still life or working out ingenious problems in light and shade, or beautiful pattern. The work is always more or less individual, and at times half a dozen different tech niques will be employed by as many separate students. This is a striking characteristic of these classes.

    The pro fessor must know many techniques, and in turn is expected to have his stu dents learn to work from the model in many different ways and with different media: charcoal, crayon, pencil, watcr color, oils, gouache, pen and ink, tem pera. Few things are more impressive to the visitor than to see an advanced class in drawing or design, making charming illustrations in a great variety of different forms and handlings. All go on together, though, as one of the teachers remarked, “The students cannot all do all—but they learn from one an other.” In the work-shops things are as busy, but not nearly so crowded. There one finds half a dozen or a dozen students, advanced pupils thoroughly grounded in line, form and pattern, working quietly at individual problems. If it is a metal working room one will be developing the elements of a jeweled brooch, another preparing an enameled box, a third drawing up a silver beaker which is to be embossed,—a piece of work requiring infinite skill and patience. The master will now say a word to one, now to an other, here a bit of help will be given, now a hint with a smart sting of criti cism.

    The work must be “right”— nothing hurried or shabby will pass for an instant. “If these things need a week, take a week”—what is a week in four years’ training for mastership! So also we shall find affairs in other shop-studios. In the textile room we may see beautiful pieces of embroidery or perhaps a table-cover of charming color and design; in the pottery room, vases of fine shape and line, jars of quaint conceit of form and color—of course made and fired in the school kiln. The professor of the printing arts will show us etchings, dry prints, mezzotints, and lithographs made by his little group of experts, and the professor of sculp ture will exhibit a half dozen projects all in development, or may, as in Vien na, take us out into the public garden back of the school and show the decora tions in “Calk-Stone” made by his pupils. Perchance, we may come to one room where only a couple of students are at work and wonder whether a course so scantily patronized is considered a suc cess.

    There we should make the easy error of estimating success in numbers, rather than in fine craftsmanship. A word to the director will set us right. “Ah, this course, yes. We have few students with the right talent, but as long as we have one we must have the course. That ‘one’ may mean much for our art in the years to come.” Here is the seed idea of the German Arts-Crafts school. It is a school for the cultivation of the highest taste and skill in the highest type of worker, that worker and state may enjoy the fruits of this deter mined scheme to raise the artistic value of the products of German industry “yes—that one may mean much for our art in the years to come.”



    The infant among college societies is the College Art Association, which drew its first breath in Cincinnati last May, developed forthwith a good consti tution and was ready for active work December 27th and 28th, in Pittsburgh. The object of the Association is “to pro mote art interests in all divisions of American colleges and universities.” This makes the organization militant rather than reflective, concerned perhaps more with teaching than with research. It is inclined to take for granted its own in terest in things artistic, and to bend its endeavor to arousing a similar interest in others. This is fairly apparent from the na ture of the program presented at Pitts.

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