Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16

Gay Arts & Crafts Designer
Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942)
Despite his father’s reputation as a heterosexual pornographer who donated thousands of pornographic volumes to the British Museum, English Arts & Crafts designer C. R. Ashbee was gay. He came of age in a time when homosexuality was illegal, known as “the love that dare not speak its name.” Ashbee was a member of the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society founded in 1897 for the cultivation of a homosexual ethos. To cover his homosexuality, Roberts married Janet Forbes, daughter of a wealthy London stockbroker. CRA, as he was known, had admitted his sexual orientation to his future wife shortly after he proposed. Nevertheless, they married in 1898 and, after 13 years of rocky marriage (including a serious affair on the part of Janet), had four children.

Ashbee established the Guild and School of Handicraft in 1888 in London, producing metalwork, jewelry and enamels as well as hand-wrought copper, wrought iron work and furniture. Personally, Ashbee was also involved in house design, including furniture and decoration, and utilitarian items such as fireplaces.

At right:
Mahogany etagère
Charles Robert Ashbee, 1895
Manufactured by Guild of Handicraft, London

Silver container with cover and glass liner
Charles Robert Ashbee, 1900
Metalwork, sterling silver, glass, enamel and mother-of-pearl.
Manufacturer: Guild of Handicraft

But back to the boys with tan lines.

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