Object of the Month: April 2021

Published: 25 March 2021

Chosen by

Heather, collections


Decorative Arts

Object Name


Place Made

Coalbrookdale, Shropshire

Object Information

Design by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904)

Roundels designed by John Moyr Smith

Made by the Coalbrookdale Company, England

Cast iron frame with wooden seat.

Christopher Dresser was a British designer and a pivotal figure in the Aesthetic Movement – an art movement that put beauty first - ‘Art for Art’s sake’, rather than the objects having a deeper meaning.

Dresser was considered an industrial designer, working with many different manufacturers. He designed a wide range of furniture, homewares, textiles and wall papers in a remarkably diverse range of materials.

He was considered one of the first designers to successfully bridge the gap between art and industry in Victorian England and was very influential at the time, working alongside William Morris, William de Morgan and artists such as Frederic Leighton and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

This chair was designed in association with John Moyr Smith, a designer most notable for his ceramic tile designs. Smith designed the central roundels.

The Coalbrookedale Company (founded in 1709) was famed for its cast iron work and Dresser worked with them between 1867 and 1872 designing not only chairs but hall stands and garden furniture.

Leicester Museums & Galleries has several items in the collection that were designed by Dresser including fireplaces. The collection also contains works by others connected with the Aesthetic movement including tiles and ceramics by William de Morgan and sketches by Rossetti.