Bruce James Talbert Biography

Bruce James Talbert: Early Career and Transition to Furniture Design

Bruce James Talbert, originally trained as a carver and then an architect, became an influential and very successful furniture designer. He served an apprenticeship in Dundee and ran his own carving business for two years, where he learned the skills to apply carved details to furniture. He then joined the architectural offices of Charles Edward. In 1856, he moved to Glasgow and worked for the architects W. N. Tait and Campbell Douglas. He moved to Manchester in the early 1860s, gaining employment with the cabinetmakers Doveston, Bird, and Hull, though this was short-lived. He then moved to Coventry, working with Skidmore’s Art Manufactures. In 1863, he won the competition to design the masthead for ‘The Building News’.

Talbert's Prolific Period and Major Achievements

In the mid-1860s, Talbert moved to London, where he began designing furniture for Holland and Sons. His ‘Pericles’ Gothic sideboard was displayed at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, where it won the Grand Prix. This marked the beginning of his most prolific period, and he also started designing furniture for Gillows of Lancaster from 1868. In the same year, he published his influential first book ‘Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work, and Decoration for Domestic Purposes’, dedicated to George Edmund Street. This was followed in 1876 by ‘Examples of Ancient and Modern Furniture, Metalwork, Tapestries and Modern Furniture’, and in 1881 by ‘Fashionable Furniture’.

Collaborations and Design Contributions

Talbert designed for various companies including Marsh, Jones and Cribb, Jackson and Graham, and for a short time, partnered with Daniel Cottier. He designed textiles for Templeton’s, Warner’s, Cowlishaw, Barbour, and Miller; carpet designs for Templeton’s and Brinton and Co.; and his wallpaper designs were printed by Jeffrey and Co. He also designed church metalwork and furniture for Cox and Sons, cast iron for the Colebrookdale Co., Nichol and Co, Barbone and Miller, and Cowlishaw. In 1869, Talbert returned to London, working as a prolific and successful freelance commercial designer and decorator.

Bruce James Talbert's journey through his career showcases his versatility and significant impact in the field of furniture design and decoration.

Researched and written by Tony Geering.

Shop Bruce James Talbert on Puritan Values