Catterson-Smith was invited to assist in the preparation of the famous illustrations of Edward Burne-Jones for the books produced by Kelmscott Press. This publishing house organized by William Morris to revive the medieval traditions of typography. The whole process - from paper production to creating illustrations and letters, layout and printing - was done manually. The poet Chaucer’s publication of the poet William Yates later called “the most beautiful of all printed books.”
Left: page from the book “The Works of Jeffrey Chaucer”, published in Kelmskott Press in 1896. Estimate 2 - 3 thousand pounds. Photo: Sotheby's
The then unknown artist from Ireland worked with illustrations of Burne-Jones, transferring them from photographs to wooden panels needed for printing in medieval style. However, Morris never publicly recognized the role of Catterson-Smith, which gave rise to a number of "exposing" publications in the press in 1898. One commentator even claimed that at Burnn-Jones his hands were shaking from old age, and all the drawings were actually made by his assistant.
Left: T. Murray Bernard Blaydon, Portrait of Robert Catterson-Smith (c. 1920)
Robert Catterson-Smith (1853–1938) headed the Birmingham School of Art when she was at the height of her fame as one of the world's leading centers of arts and crafts. In addition, he left a unique legacy in London: it was from his hands that the famous statue of Prince Albert, who is the center of the Queen Victoria Memorial in Kensington Park, was molded by his hands.
Left: a gilded bronze monument to Prince Albert at Kensington Gardens in London