CRANE Walter - Autograph Letter Signed 1899 concerning the cancelled Manchester panels
Walter CRANE (1845-1915)
Autograph Letter Signed (“Walter Crane”) to “My dear Rowley” [Charles Rowley, socialist councillor of Ancoats, Manchester], discussing some panels for Manchester and his work at South Kensington.
4 pages 8vo together with autograph envelope, 13 Holland Street, Kensington, 19 April 1899.
“Thanks for your kind letter. We are all pretty well, but I am sorry you & Mrs Rowley are suffering from cough & rheumatism, & hope with more genial weather & your Welsh paradise you will get set up again.
I was sure you would be feeling the loss of your friend Ellis [Thomas Edward Ellis, Welsh Liberal politician who had died on 5 April]. I remember meeting him at one of your genial dinners at the National Liberal, & I liked him so much, but I suppose everybody liked him. I had a glimpse of Mr Acland [Liberal politician Sir Arthur Acland, who resigned from Parliament in 1899 due to ill health] at S.K. not long ago. I thought he was looking stronger.
As to the Manchester panels – I was rather surprised, but it was put on the score of expense.
It would have been quite impossible for me to have carried out the work in the time without assistance & Colton would have done it well. Mr [?} said they proposed to give me an honorarium, in that case I should send the sketch designs already made back. Do you advise me to make a definite charge or leave it to the committee?
Of course if you really think that was the feeling, it is possible I might have worked out the designs if time was not an object, when I got freer of South Kensington, as I feel I must do as I cannot forego my life as an artist.
So much, too, would have to be done there before one could do any good as one thing hangs upon another so much.
Well, you know me as always glad to see you here, & I shall be glad to tell you anything about S.K that I can when we meet.”
Crane was well connected in Manchester, where he had served as Director of Design at the Manchester School of Art for three years from 1893. He was also President of the Royal College of Art based in South Kensington, a position from which he resigned after only a year, for reasons evident in this letter.
“Colton” who Crane suggests could have carried out the work on the panels was almost certainly William Colton, painter, sculptor and member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. He later served on the Council of the Royal Academy.
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