- Museum number
Vase; free-blown smoky grey glass, with double ribbon round the lower part of the body, applied during the blowing so that the profile bulges slightly below the ribbon.
- Production date
- 1933 (designed)
Height: 26.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.215.
An architect by training and New Zealander by birth, Murray turned to design in the early 1930s when architectural commissions were scarce. In his own account (Design for Today, London June 1933) he acknowledges his debt to the Swedish, Viennese, Czech and Finnish glass that he saw at the Paris Exhibition of 1925, and records that he began making designs for glass 'some eighteen months ago', i.e. late 1931 or early 1932. He was introduced to Harry Trethowan (ceramic buyer for Heal & Son and a committed member of the Design & Industries Association) and to Marriot Powell (director of James Powell & Sons since the retirement of Harry Powell in 1919). Marriot Powell made some experimental pieces but found Murray's shapes unsuited to the Whitefriars manufacturing processes. Murray was eventually put in touch with Hubert Williams-Thomas, managing director of Stevens & Williams, who had already discussed the idea of a modern glass range with Gordon Russell and Ambrose Heal, both propagandists of industrial design. Williams-Thomas then put selected designs into production; these were first shown at a special display in Stevens & Williams's London showrooms in Holborn in September 1932 (Pottery Gazette, London, 1 September 1932, 1100-5).
For Murray, form in glass design was all important and decoration, if used at all, was to express the form of the object, not destroy it. The illustrations to his 1933 article include this vase in a group, described as: 'Flower vases in bottle green. These vases are made by hand without any mould. The rings in the centre specimen [Decorative Arts 1850-1950, Cat. 215] are put on at an intermediate stage of the making and rolled flat. The simple shapes are a natural expression of hand-made glass and they are comparatively cheap.'
Murray continued to design for Stevens & Williams until the outbreak of the Second World War, maintaining regular contact with the craftsmen and producing about one hundred and fifty new designs each year. Those that were made up for costingsare recorded in the 'Keith Murray Works Description Book' held in the Royal Brierley Crystal Glass Museum (the firm became known as Royal Brierley Crystal in 1985); this vase appears as description no. 308a, with the date 1933.
Murray's glass was included in two large exhibitions of industrial art in London, 'British Industrial Art in Relation to the Home' at Dorland Hall in 1933 and 'British Art in Industry'
at the Royal Academy in 1935, and in the Paris Exhibition of 1937.
For Stevens & Williams, see R.S. Williams-Thomas, 'The Crystal Years: Stevens & Williams Ltd.' Brierley Hill 1983.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number