Designer Biography

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin

Born: 1812

Died: 1852

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Pugin was a devout Catholic, born like Brunel to French immigrant parents.  He trained as a draughtsman in his fathers office, and embarked on a design career at fifteen years of age, with Gothic furniture made by Morel & Seddon for Windsor Castle and metalwork for the royal goldsmiths, Rundell, Bridge & Co.  His numerous publications were highly influential; his Reformed Gothic ecclesiastical and domestic buildings set the pattern of the Gothic Revival in Britain for two decades.  His work on the interior decoration of the New Palace of Westminster initiated many patterns and techniques that found their way into the commercial repertory of domestic design. Throughout his career Pugin employed a two tier structure to his work, for his wealthy clients he designed elaborate pieces of furniture but for himself and for commissions close to his heart in the churches and religious houses across Ireland and England it was the gothic principals of revealed construction that preoccupied, and his designs became progressively simpler.  His early stained glass was made by Wailes but from 1845 he used Hardman & Co who were already making his designs for metal-work, silver and embroideries.  Pugin worked very closely with his manufacturers, encouraging the introduction of new products and techniques. With Hardman he developed and applied the new electroplating techniques which had been developed by Elkington.  With Collins & Reynolds he patented a lithographic process for printing ceramics.  With Herbert Minton he revived the medieval encaustic process for making tiles and introduced a new palette of colours.  With his closest allies; Hardman, Crace, Myers and Minton, he began to plan the Medival Court for the 1851 Great Exhibition in March 1850. A number of their exhibits were chosen by the purchasing committee for the new South Kensington Museum, on which Pugin sat with Owen Jones, Henry Cole, and Richard Redgrave. His crowded career came to an end with his mental collapse and he died prematurely aged only forty.

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