The Victoria and Albert Museum has collaborated with the Bard Graduate Center, New York, to present the first exhibition exploring the life and work of Lockwood Kipling (1837 – 1911), an artist, teacher, curator and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.
Lockwood Kipling was a social campaigner for the preservation of Indian crafts, a craftsman whose terracotta panels can still be seen on the exterior of the V&A and was an illustrator of books by his son, the renowned writer Rudyard Kipling.
Highlights of the exhibition include paintings of the Indian section of the Great Exhibition, Lockwood Kipling’s own sketches of Indian craftspeople observed during his time living in India, objects he selected in India for the V&A, designs and illustrations for books, and furniture designed for royal residences Bagshot Park and Osborne.
Born in Yorkshire in 1837, Lockwood Kipling began his career as a designer and architectural sculptor. At a young age he was inspired by a visit to the 1851 Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace where he saw Indian objects that were later purchased as part of the founding collections of the V&A.
The exhibition includes some of these best examples of Indian craftsmanship such as a bracelet of enamelled gold set with diamonds, a purple woven silk prayer carpet and a sword and helmet. In the early 1860s, Kipling joined the South Kensington Museum (as the V&A was then known) producing decoration for the new V&A buildings with terracotta architectural sculpture under the direction of Godfrey Sykes.
His own likeness can still be seen in a mosaic decoration overlooking the Museum’s John Madejski garden, showing a procession led by the V&A’s first director Henry Cole. The exhibition also includes pieces relating to the Arts and Crafts movement such as a piano decorated by PreRaphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones played by Lockwood Kipling’s wife, Alice Macdonald, and also a large panel that she embroidered for Red House, the home of Arts and Crafts campaigner William Morris.
Kipling left London for India in 1865, spending ten years in Bombay (now known as Mumbai) to teach at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art, then moving to Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, as Principal of the new Mayo School of Art (today Pakistan’s National College of Arts) and curator of the adjoining museum. During this time craft traditions were in decline and Kipling travelled to observe, collect and record these skills. Kipling’s portrait drawings of craftsmen and cotton workers are on show, with objects matching their activities presented alongside the drawings.
Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London runs from January 14 –April 2. Admission is free.