Ecclesiastical Textiles of Richard Norman Shaw (1831 - 1912)

While by the 20th century the gothic revival had rather stagnated (perhaps through over-reliance on the novelty found in medievalism and its revival) in the 19th century it was frequently quite another story, seeing some momentous accomplishments in the domain of the liturgical arts.  While the likes of Pugin, Comper and Bodley are rightly considered as key examples of this flourishing, another example comes by way of another lesser known Briton, Richard Norman Shaw (1831 - 1912).

Shaw is primarily known for his architectural contributions, but he also pursued work in the area of ecclesiastical textiles, at least with regard to altar frontals. Here, for example, is a frontal he designed for the parish of St. Edward the Confessor in Leek, executed by the Leek school of embroidery:

Photo via Victorian Web. Photograhed by Jacqueline Banerjee. 
Another example of his textile work can be found at the the parish of All Saints, also in Leek, designed in 1887:

One can see the similarity between the two frontals of course, but both are spectacular examples of 19th century English liturgical embroidery.

It is a good reminder too that, frequently, the lacklustre feelings many night feel about gothic style today arguably have less do with the gothic style itself than it does with the cliche and mediocre approaches often made to it. However, when presented with accomplishments such as this, or those of Pugin, Bodley and Comper, admiration and praise are nearly universal.

In that regard, it seems fitting to appeal to those making or commissioning gothic forms to look to the English masters of the 19th century or to the medieval period itself for their inspiration.

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