Alexander Fisher

In the following essay I am going to talk about Alexander Fisher. The essay is organized as it follows: in section 2  I am going to talk about Fisher’s life and how he started doing enamellings; in section 3 I am going to talk about his style and his works; in section 4 I’m going to approach the subject on the influences Fisher had and how he inspired JRR Tolkien; section 5 contains some final conclusions.

Alexander Fisher 1864-1936  was a British silversmith that specialized in enamelling. He taught at LCC Central Schools of Art and at other British schools. Although Fisher started at the beginning as a painter, he became interested in enamelling and moved to Paris to study this art. After returning to England, he started making jewellery and published some books on enamelling. Alexander Fisher is known as “the key figure in the revival of enamelling in Britain, in the late 19th century” (National Museum of Scotland, 2008) and is “responsible for the revival of the Limoges technique” (Linda Perry, 1993). He was also a very influential teacher and was a lecturer at many British Arts and Crafts Schools.

Fisher is one of the most representative artists for the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain. The Arts and Crafts movement was born from the European and American artists’ need to “brake away from the academic bias that extrolled the classical heritage of Greece and Rome. They found new inspiration in the art of craft.” (Marilyn Stockstad, 2008, p. 893). Fisher was part of this movement, giving up on painting to study enamelling, he “made specimen pieces demonstrating his mastery in various techniques. These included a large silver and plique- a jour tazza with pierced out openwork, a series of profile portraits following the traditional Limonges style, and a few large scale enamel paintings as fire- screens” (Erika Speel). Some of these examples are The Travelling Icon (image 1), Tristan and Isolde Buckle (image 2). I personally don’t really like this kind of art, but anyone can notice and appreciate the talent that Fisher put in all of his work, and we can also notice the warm, harmonic colours that he uses in his enamels, for example in  Triptych: Life of St Patrick (image 3)”extremely graceful and romantic in choice of colours with blue, green and purple predominating, and with soft pink or white opalescent enamels representing the faces and the flesh areas.” (Erika Speel).

Alexander Fisher’s style was “inspired by paintings of the Garden of Hesperides by Edward Burne Jones and Lord Leighton” (National Museum of Scotland, 2008), but we can’t talk about only one influence when it comes to Fisher; he also made “jewellery and objects decorated with figures in a late Pre-Raphelite style” (Linda Perry, 1993). His art was also a source of inspiration for many artists in different domains, one of them is JRR Tolkien who was mostly influenced by The Volsunga Saga/ Sigurd the Volsung (image 4) in creating The Lord of the Rings: “The Volsunga Saga deeply influenced JRR Tolkien’s writing.  In particular the sword that was reforged, rings of power, the dragon on the hoard, and the creature Gollum.” (http://www.vandenbosch.co.uk/Artists&Designers/AlexanderFisher.htm)

In the end, Alexander Fisher is and will always be an important figure in the British Arts and Crafts Movement and his artwork will remain a point of reference in the enamelling history and will continue to inspire artists from various domains.

Referencing List:

Stokstad, Marilyn (2008) Art History. 3rd edn. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Speel, Erika (no date) Dictionary of Enamelling, History and Techniques, Ashgate Publishing, available at: http://mywebtiscali.co.uk/speel/otherart/fisher2.htm (Accessed: 30.03.2011)

Van den Bosch Artists & Designers (no date), available at:  http://www.vandenbosch.co.uk/Artists&Designers/AlexanderFisher.htm (Accessed: 30.03.2011)

Parry, Linda (1993), The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Textile Collection, British Textiles from 1850 to 1900; London

National Museum of Scotland (2008), Overmantel: The Garden of the Hesperides; available at: http://www.artfund.org/artwork/10323/overmantel%3A-the-garden-of-the-hesperides (Accessed: 30.03.2011)

image 1: Fisher, Alexander; The Travelling Icon (1897), image source: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/speel/pico/fisher2.jpg

image 2: Fisher, Alexander; Tristan and Isolde Buckle (cca. 1900), image source: http://www.vmfa.state.va.us/uploadedImages/VMFA/Collections/Art_Deco_+_Art_Nouveau/2002_35_v1_KW_200902_M.jpg

image 3: Fisher, Alexander; Triptych, Life of Saint Partrick (1906), image source: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/speel/pico/fisher5.jpg

image 4: Fisher, Alexander; Volsunga Saga (1900), image source: http://www.graysantiques.com/resources/19398.jpg

image 5: Fisher, Alexander; Design for a Yachting Cup in Silver and Enamel (aprox. 1909), image source: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/speel/pico/fisher4.jpg

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Erika Speel
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 17:28:01

    Compressing key information, as for this article, does, as here, tend to result in a few anomalies appearing in the overview. But is is good that Fisher is kept in the public eye and that the branch of enamelling he instigated gets the attention it deserves. Erika Speel.

    Reply

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