Bruce James Talbert

Bruce James Talbert
Birth and death
1838 - 1881
Profession details
Architect, Designer, Carver
Related place
Alistair Grant

Bruce James Talbert (1838-1881), architect and designer. Originally a carver, Talbert later trained as an architect, but his main activity was to be in the field of domestic decoration and design. In 1863 he won the competition to design the masthead for Building News. He worked from about 1861 at Skidmore's Art Manufactures Co., Coventry, making detailed drawings and designs for George Gilbert Scott's Albert Memorial and the Hereford Cathedral screen. In the late 1860s and early 1870s he supplied designs to Cox & Sons, at the same time that he published (1867, with a second edition in 1868) the first volume of his book 'Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture, Metal Work and Decoration for Domestic Purposes'. Although not the first book giving advice on how to decorate domestic interiors (that was C. L. Eastlake's 'Hints on Household Taste' published in 1864 and reprinted in 1866) Talbert's book was more influential than all its predecessors, as it was not addressed to the public but the furniture trades. It was dedicated to G. E. Street. Talbert was a prolific commercial designer, employed by Holland & Sons, Gillow's, Marsh, Jones & Cribb of Leeds and Jackson & Graham. He was a friend of J. M. Smith, J. M. Brydon, and D. Cottier, in whose company he was briefly a partner. He met Norman Shaw and W. E. Nesfield through Brydon and subsequently worked with their (and Scott's) carver, James Forsyth. In 1868 he designed an advertisement for James Lamb of Manchester. Talbert ran a very busy design studio, in which Batley was a pupil, commissioning designs from other draughtsmen, such as George C. Haite (1855-1924), and designing himself metalwork and furniture for Cox & Co., wallpaper designs for Jeffrey & Co.; textiles for Templetons, Barbour & Miller and Cowlishaw, Nicol & Co.; carpets for Messrs Brinton and Templetons; and cast iron for the Coalbrookdale Company. A sequel to the successful 'Gothic Forms' was entitled 'Examples of Ancient & Modern Furniture, Metal Work, Tapestries, Decorations, Etc.' (1876). 'Fashionable Furniture' was published posthumously shortly after his death from chronic alcoholism in 1881.

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