William Arthur Chase for the Rowley Gallery, An Arts and Crafts Marquetry Wood Panel, the 'Duck Pond’
Period: Arts and Crafts
Height: 16 inches
Width: 13 inches
Depth: 1 inch
In original wavy gilt frame, the inlaid wood panel designed by William Arthur Chase and the construction by Albert James Rowley, this is an important piece of Arts and Crafts period ware in good condition. Showing a rural scene of a duck pond, the three ducks in the foreground and trees and buildings to the back; this is an extremely well executed piece of marquetry work with a country aspect.
Mr and Mrs Albert James Rowley, focusing on picture framing, mounting, restoration, carving and gilding, founded the Rowley Gallery in 1898. By the 1920s they were active from their premises at 140-2 Church Street, Kensington (thus dating this picture) specialising in decorative schemes to include distinctive designs for inlaid pictures and mirrors, screens and furniture. Celebrated artists such as Sir Frank Brangwyn, William Chase, Robert Anning Bell, W J Palmer Jones, Henry Butler, and Horace Mann Livens were amongst those supplying designs, which were executed by Rowley and his team of highly skilled craftsmen.
William Chase exhibited at the Royal Academy, and amongst his flower paintings "The Flower Jug" was purchased by Her Majesty Queen Mary. Other paintings included "A Colour Group of Sweet Peas" and "A Chintz Bunch" which were both purchased by the Queen of Norway. However, it is the Rowley inlaid wood panels that are considered to be his outstanding work.
Albert James Rowley had been a pupil at St Paul’s School, Hammersmith and had a long friendship with the artist Frank Brangwyn. Brangwyn had worked for a while for William Morris who lived at Upper Mall in Hammersmith from 1878 until his death in 1896, and Albert Rowley was undoubtedly inspired by the legacy of the Arts and Crafts Movement established by Morris. Before very long The Rowley Gallery was also producing inlaid wood panels and furniture. Designs for panels were at first adapted from paintings by artists such as Millais, Whistler and Lord Leighton, but then A J Rowley began to commission artists to make designs specifically for wood panels. One of the first and most prolific of these was William Chase.
William Chase and Albert James Rowley worked together over many years, and it was Chase who was responsible for the distinctive Pan label seen on this example, which was used from 1912. Some labels have A J Rowley’s name, suggesting he was personally responsible for making the piece, and include an inscription for the artist who designed it – in this case by William Chase. The label is clearly marked and therefore becomes all the more desirable. The Pan label also bears pencil inscriptions, ‘/66’ and ‘2/2-‘.
With interest in the Rowley Gallery seemingly always growing, and pieces being exhibited at the V&A, Brighton Museum and the William Morris Gallery, this example is a highly important and charming picture, crafted and designed by significant figures in Arts and Crafts history.