New Book | Joseph Rose: Working Drawings. Facsimile of a Sketchbook

Posted in books, exhibitions by Editor on April 23, 2019


Joseph Rose: Working Drawings. Facsimile of a Sketchbook at Harewood House, with an introduction by Ashleigh Murray (Frome, Somerset: Kate Holland, 2019). Limited edition of 50, of which 48 are ‘ordinary’ (£150) and 2 ‘extraordinary’ (£3000).

The two extraordinary copies are bound in full alum tawed calfskin with hand dyed calfskin inlays and blind and gold tooling. A plasterwork rosette by Hayles and Howe, gilded by Glenny Thomas, is inset into the front board. Hand coloured edges. Hand sewn silk endbands. Printed endpapers from an original watercolour.

This book came about following an invitation to Kate Holland to exhibit as one of the 26 makers selected to feature in the inaugural celebration of contemporary craft at Harewood House, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, on view from 23 March until 1 September 2019. A preliminary visit to the house culminated in a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives. In one drawer was a small, nondescript, slightly battered book that revealed a series of working drawings by both Joseph Rose Senior (ca. 1723–1780) and Joseph Rose Junior (1745–1799).

The Roses were the pre-eminent master plasterers of their day and worked closely with Robert Adam (1728–1792) on the ceilings at Harewood in the 1760s as well as on many other big houses, several of which feature in this book. The sketchbook gives a fascinating glimpse into the minds of two incredible craftsmen working on highly significant commissions with some of the foremost architects and interior designers of their time. It is the perfect record of the link between commissioner, designer, and craftsman. Particularly because craftsmen too often fade into the background, Holland wanted to celebrate them especially for this celebration of craft.

As well as the facsimile sketchbook, there is also included an introduction by Ashleigh Murray, currently the academic expert on Joseph Rose in the UK. There are also contemporary images from the workshop floor of Hayles and Howe in Bristol, who still use the same techniques as Joseph Rose today—as well as a full list of plates, transcribed from the manuscript titles, as written by Joseph Rose.

This book is intended to serve not only as an important reference tool for those researching ornamental plasterwork or the work of Robert Adam but also to appeal to a wider audience with an interest in Georgian architecture or the history of interior design and craftsmanship.

For those visiting Harewood House, copies are available at the gift shop. Mail order copies can be arranged by contacting Kate Holland directly, katehollandbookbinder@gmail.com.

More information on the exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters is available here.

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