The Victorian Art School documents the history of the art school in the nineteenth century, from its origins in South Kensington to its proliferation through the major industrial centres of Britain. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, together with earlier examples in Manchester and Birmingham demonstrate an unprecedented concern for the provision of plentiful light and air amidst the pollution of the Victorian city. As theories of design education and local governance converged, they also reveal the struggle of the provincial city for cultural independence from the capital.
Examining innovations in the use of new technologies and approaches in the design of these buildings, The Victorian Art School offers a unique and explicitly environmental reading of the Victorian city. It examines how art schools complemented civic ‘Improvement’ programmes, their contribution to the evolution of art pedagogy, the tensions that arose between the provincial schools and the capital, and the role they would play in reimagining the relationship between art and public life in a rapidly transforming society.
The architects of these buildings synthesised the potential of art with the perfection of the internal environment, indelibly shaping the future cultural life of Britain.
Table of Contents
The Environment of the City
A Municipal Awakening
2. ‘By the Gains of Industry we Promote Art’: New schools for design
Lighting in the Early Academies
The Department of Science and Art
The Culture of the Artisan
3. A worthy facade: Manchester School of Art
The Condition of Manchester
Fine Art or Design?
A Spacious Site
Galleries and Studios
4. ‘Drawn from the light’: Birmingham School of Art
Chamberlain and the Civic Gospel
The Value of Culture
The Industrial Patronage of Art Education
The Influence of Ruskin
The Evolution of the Design
The School’s Influence
5. Into clean air: Glasgow School of Art
‘Let Art Flourish’
Realising the Ideal Environment
Lighting, Ventilation and Warming
A Formal Synthesis
A Microcosm of the City
6. ‘Local centres of civilisation’: The art school in context
Parting the Smoke
The Civilising Power of Art
Culture as a Civic Project
Dissolving into Light and Air
Unifying Art and Design
Ranald Lawrence is a Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Liverpool. His research examines the history of environmental design, and the broader relationship between buildings and climate in different cultural contexts. Ranald has worked with several award-winning architectural practices as a designer and researcher. He completed his PhD research on Victorian art schools at the University of Cambridge, funded by the AHRC.
"In this rich study of the art school buildings built in the problematic urban microclimates of the three greatest Victorian cities, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, Ranald Lawrence adds a significant new dimension to our understanding of the architecture of that time." - Dean Hawkes, Emeritus Professor, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff, and Darwin College, Cambridge
"Lawrence’s book is an impressive and erudite new insight into a period that still has technical and cultural relevance for architects and others working in the field of the built environment." - Professor Colin Porteous OBE, Glasgow School of Art