Today seems like an excellent day to bring a few beautiful examples of Victorian art to your attention. Herewith the first of three new posts in my ongoing "Victorian Things" series.
This stunning thirty-piece tile panel by William Burges (1827-1881) for W.B. Simpson & Sons was created around 1880. (We've met the eccentric "parrot-keeping, rat-hunting, opium-eating Freemason" Burges before: here's my post on a wine decanter he designed in 1865 and his connection with guitarist Jimmy Page.)
Burges designed these earthenware tiles, each 15.5 cm square and hand painted in shades of green, blue, and white, for Castell Coch, one of the residences of the 3rd Marquess of Bute, where they were installed in the drawing room fireplace. The panel includes twelve tiles depicting the signs of the Zodiac and eighteen border tiles featuring roundels, bands, and stylized flowers. Apart from the Castell Coch tiles and another set at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute, this panel is the only complete set known to exist. Photographs of the tiles in situ can be seen in J. Mordaunt Crook, William Burges and the High Victorian Dream (1981, pl. 163), and David McLees, Castell Coch (1998, pp. 35-36).
The panel sold at a Sotheby's auction in March for £28,000.
Click on the image for an enlargement.