Guild of Handicraft
English, active 1888–1908
Standing Comport, 1905
21.8 x 20.8 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from an anonymous donor
The WAG owns several works by the Guild of Handicraft including this splendid comport, a type of dessert dish supported by a stem base. The Guild was the brainchild of architect, designer, and writer Charles Robert Ashbee (1863–1942). Influenced by John Ruskin and William Morris, Ashbee strongly advocated for craftsmanship and hand-made processes. He established the Guild in 1888 in East London, relocating in 1902 to the rural setting of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, which allowed for exploration of a co-operative and communal existence. Not surprisingly, the Guild’s aesthetic formed in direct opposition to the appearance of machine-made wares. Instead of flawless finishes with ornate surfaces, the Guild preferred overt evidence of the maker’s involvement, such as textured surfaces reflecting the hammer strikes needed to shape the silver. The WAG comport carries this unmistakable evidence of handwork, punctuated with small plaques of floral enamel work and openwork design.