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DateLecture
16 January 2020A KELMSCOTT CHAUCER FOR OUR TIMES
05 December 2019EDWARD HOPPER The answer is on the canvas
21 November 2019HISTORY OF CARTOONS From William Hogarth to Private Eye
17 October 2019CARAVAGGIO - Murderer or Genius
19 September 2019SOFT ANGELIC WHISPERS The Hidden History of the English Medieval Harp
20 June 2019A PROVOCATIVE BEAUTY The Art of Grayson Perry
16 May 2019REMBRANDT and VERMEER The Golden Age of Dutch Art
21 March 2019HOW IS IT MADE? A closer look at silver
21 February 2019MODERN ARCHITECTURE
17 January 2019FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
15 November 2018TWENTIETH CENTURY ENGLISH GARDENS
18 October 2018HOLY MOTHER AND SACRED COWS The birth of modern sculpture in Britain
20 September 2018THE CRYSTAL WORLD Flemish Painting and Northern Renaissance
21 June 2018THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY The story of photography from an art historians perspective
17 May 2018J M W TURNER Tradition and Innovation
15 March 2018JAPONISME TO MODERNISM
15 February 2018KLIMT AND THE VIENNA SECESSION
18 January 2018SLATE, PINE AND FERN The Land Art of Andy Goldsworthy
16 November 2017HOCKNEY AT EIGHTY
19 October 2017THE MONA LISA AND OTHER HOUSEWIVES How portraits lie about their sitters
21 September 2017LAURA KNIGHT or EVELYN DUNBAR Which was the greater artist?
15 June 2017A VIEW FROM THE PLINTH A review of contemporary sculpture
18 May 2017SUN AND SNOW Nordic landscape painting
16 March 2017MURDER, MYSTERY AND THE CAMDEN TOWN GROUP An introduction to the core members of the group and key themes addressed within their work
16 February 2017BARBARA HEPWORTH Her life, attachment to the landscape and artistic influences
19 January 2017CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS How the interaction of image and narrative creates powerful memories
17 November 2016NO ORDINARY CHRISTMAS An exploration of the depiction of the Nativity in western art
20 October 2016TAKING A LIKENESS The art of 18th century portraits Compares and contrasts the works of Ramsay, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Wright of Derby
15 September 2016VIRGINS OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY A chance to enjoy the images of the Virgin Mary in the National Gallery and consider their varied intention and impact
25 June 2016RIVERS IN ART an open lecture at Keswick School
16 June 2016ISLAMIC ART An introduction to Islamic Art and Design
19 May 2016REBEL IN GLASS The art of Louis Comfort Tiffany
28 April 2016CDFAS AGM and SECOND MARY BURKETT MEMORIAL LECTURE
17 March 2016THE DISTURBING WORLD OF FRIDA KAHLO
18 February 2016DURER : THE ITALIAN AND NORTHERN RENAISSANCE The relationship between Italian art, Dürer and the Northern Artists
21 January 2016IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER Artists' Responses to Snow
03 December 2015Christmas Lunch with a talk by Joanne Stamper entitled "Discovering Derventio"
19 November 2015MAGNIFICENT MOSAICS Windows into the Colourful Roman World
15 October 2015THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
17 September 2015THE ART OF WATERLOO A special lecture for 2015
18 June 2015THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SACRED SPACES Religious architecture of the world
21 May 2015THE ELGIN MARBLES
30 April 2015CDFAS Annual General Meeting Including The First Mary Burkett Memorial Lecture THE ROMANS IN NORTH WEST CUMBRIA
19 March 2015HIDDEN MEANINGS How to Understand the Artist's Message
19 February 2015LOOKING AT UNDERRATED WOMEN ARTISTS From the Renaissance to the 20th Century
08 January 2015CHURCH SILVER IN ENGLAND 500 years of change
04 December 2014Christmas Lunch and Talk
20 November 2014THE MAGIC OF VERMEER in the context of the 17th Century
16 October 2014THE MAKING OF ASSISI Popes,Pilgrims and the Painting of the Basilica of San Francesco
18 September 2014ROYAL PROGRESS OF ELIZABETH AND JAMES Houses and Castles that entertained Monarchs
19 June 2014RUSSIAN ART
15 May 2014HISTORY OF THE HARP
24 April 2014CDFAS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
20 March 2014MECHANICAL VISIONS, THE PRE-RAPHAELITES AND PHOTOGRAPHY
20 February 2014THE IMPERIAL EASTER EGGS OF KARL FABERGE
16 January 2014NICHOLAS PEVSNER AND THE BUILDINGS OF ENGLAND

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A KELMSCOTT CHAUCER FOR OUR TIMES Domenic Riley Thursday 16 January 2020

Dominic Riley is one the most renowned bookbinders working today. His design bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library, the St Bride Library, the Rylands in Manchester, the National Library of Wales, and the San Francisco Public Library. He has created over seventy design bindings to date, and when he is not making modern bindings he restores antiquarian books and teaches.

When it was produced in 1896, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press was hailed as the greatest book of its age. Designed by Morris and lavishly illustrated by Edward Burne-Jones, 425 copies were printed. Some are still in their original bindings and others are in extremely fine bindings done since, leaving a few in poor bindings. In 2012, Dominic Riley was commissioned to rebind such a copy, In this lecture, Dominic will talk about the genesis of the design, from rough ideas to final execution, and the laborious process of building the binding for this iconic book.

 

LECTURE REPORT 

Dominic Riley, the President of the Society of Bookbinders, gave a captivating lecture about the art and process of bookbinding under the title ‘A Kelmscott Chaucer for Our Times’.  He began by showing students at work during an apprenticeship course at Windsor Castle where practical, artistic and historical aspects of the craft are taught. He then turned to the history of the famous Kelmscott Chaucer, a large volume of the collected works of Geoffrey Chaucer, produced by the Kelmscott Press in 1896 and hailed as the greatest book of its age. 

Founded by William Morris, the Kelmscott Press sought to retain traditional methods of printing and bookbinding, which were in decline following the mechanization of the printing industry. The typeface and decorative borders of the Kelmscott Chaucer were the work of William Morris while Edward Burne-Jones produced 87 illustrations. The engravings were by William Harcourt Hooper. The printing and binding of the book were carried out by Emory Walker and Thomas Cobden-Sanderson. The Kelmscott Press printed 425 copies of the book, using their own inks and hand-made paper, of which 345 copies are known to exist today. Copies in tooled pigskin decorative bindings are now valued at £280,000, those produced on vellum upwards of one million pounds.

Dominic Riley was commissioned by the owner of one of these copies, known as the Livermore Chaucer, to re-bind the volume with a more fitting binding. After four years of negotiation and planning, the work began. A series of slides illustrated the complicated process of dismantling, cleaning and repairing the book, followed by the painstaking measures to bind the new cover made from specially sourced 10ft square piece of North African goatskin. The owner had asked for a cover design that was both traditional and contemporary. Dominic chose the initials WM (in a contemporary typeface he designed), which were placed vertically on the cover and then inlaid with a series of panels, each with a decorative design taken from Morris’s decorative borders in the book. Every panel was embossed with gold leaf and edged with red paint.

The whole process took four months of intense and exacting work, resulting in an unusual and exceptional transformation. When finished the volume was presented to the owner in California who expressed a wish that it should return to England. At Dominic’s suggestion, he donated the volume to the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where it can be viewed by anyone interested on the production of the Museum’s Library card. Dominic Riley gave a detailed and fascinating insight into a vital craft, which works to preserve and enhance books in national and international collections.

Judith Boaz