Walter Crane

Decorative Illustration of Books

The papers that follow this need no explanation, since they are directed towards special sides of the Arts and Crafts. Mr. Crane has put forward the aims of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society as an Exhibition Society, therefore I need not enlarge upon that phase of this book. But I will write a few words on the way in which it seems to me we ought to face the present position of that revival in decorative art of which our Society is one of the tokens.

And, in the first place, the very fact{vi} that there is a “revival” shows that the arts aforesaid have been sick unto death. In all such changes the first of the new does not appear till there is little or no life left in the old, and yet the old, even when it is all but dead, goes on living in corruption, and refuses to get itself put quietly out of the way and decently buried. So that while the revival advances and does some good work, the period of corruption goes on from worse to worse, till it arrives at the point when it can no longer be borne, and disappears. To give a concrete example: in these last days there are many buildings erected which (in spite of our eclecticism, our lack of a traditional style) are at least well designed and give pleasure to the eye; nevertheless, so hopelessly hideous and vulgar is general building that persons of taste find themselves regretting the brown brick box with its{vii} feeble and trumpery attempts at ornament, which characterises the style of building current at the end of the last and beginning of this century, because there is some style about it, and even some merit of design, if only negative.
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