Ernest Archibald Taylor Biography

Ernest Archibald Taylor: A Pivotal Arts and Crafts Designer

Ernest Archibald Taylor, born in 1874 in Greenock, Scotland, was the fifteenth of seventeen children. His early training was in a Clyde shipyard where he qualified as a draughtsman in 1893/4. He later enrolled as a student at the Glasgow School of Art, where he met Jessie M. King, whom he married in 1908. Taylor taught furniture design at the West of Scotland Technical College in the Industrial Arts Department from 1900-1906 and lectured in furniture design at the School of Art.

Taylor's Early Career and Role at Wylie & Lochhead

Taylor began working with Wylie & Lochhead in 1893 as a trainee designer, becoming Chief Designer by the time he left in 1906. He was responsible for maintaining the house style and undertook various commissions, including making furnishings for Robert Coats in Birmingham and for Lord Weir of Cathcart in Pollockshields.

Success at the Turin Exhibition and Later Career Moves

Taylor's most successful representation was at the Turin Exhibition in 1902, where he showcased two stained glass panels, two cabinets, a screen, and a small table, masterfully combining English and Scottish features. In 1906, he became the design-manager at George Wragge Ltd. in Manchester, where he created over 100 stained glass cartoons for the company. His wife, Jessie M. King, also had a creative flair, producing gesso panels, illustrations, and interior decoration.

Parisian Influence and War-Time Transition

The couple ran a fine art gallery and art school, Shearling Atelier, in Paris from 1911 to 1914. During this period, the influence of modern French art and the Ballet Russes is evident in his works. With the outbreak of the First World War, they moved to Kirkcudbright, where Taylor focused on landscape painting and teaching rather than design.

Researched and written by Tony Geering

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