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The formation of the schools of design, 1830 - 1850, with special reference to Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds

By P.J. Cunningham

Abstract

Although much of the discussion which preceded the formation of the Schools of Design turned on their potential benefit to industry, they were not simply a prototype of technical education, established for commercial\ud reasons. The formation of the schools occurred against. a background of increasing public encouragement of art, which laid emphasis on the national prestige, and social benefits, as much as on the commercial advantages to be derived from art. Above all, the campaign of B. R. Haydon,\ud an influential factor in securing government support for Schools of Design, was idealistic in its approach; moreover, the politicians who assisted his cause were mostly individuals with cultural and educational rather than\ud commercial interests.\ud \ud As regards the industrial arguments for art education, an examination of parliamentary enquiries into the silk trade, calico printing and copyright of designs, reveals that the manufacturers were not wholeheartedly interested in art education. National pride was as prevalent as any sense\ud of real commercial deprivation, and the most persuasive arguments in favour of design schools were put by a few unrepresentative individuals.\ud \ud Since local initiative was so important in establishing provincial Schools of Design, the particular circumstances surrounding their formation in Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, is closely studied. An industrial need for designers existed in varying degrees in each town, but also characteristic of each town was an expanding range of cultural activity with a marked growth of interest in the visual arts. The three schools were founded under the auspices of institutions already existing, and in two cases, at Manchester and Birmingham, these were societies with an interest in the fine arts. Aspects of the early history of each provincial school reveal their function to have been conceived locally as much in terms of fine as of applied art, and a detailed study of the schools, promoters shows that they were mostly drawn from what may be termed a 'cultural elite', men with interests in fine art or in the patronage of other educational, cultural and philanthropic institutions of their towns

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 1979
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:636

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Citations

  1. (1952). 1849 Stranger's guide throughBirminrrham (Cornish),
  2. and printed sources in national and local collections 2
  3. Letters on the School 'of Design" - Add.
  4. (1836). v. printed 1849 Public Record Office Minute Book, of the Committee of Management of the School of

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