The frieze commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Cutlers was the subject of articles in The British Architect and The Contract Journal. The latter was syndicated to the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, (1) and most of the information comes from T. Raffles Davison whose article in the British Architect was published in April of 1887. He must have been given a preview and it would seem likely that he had Creswick’s own account to go on. Davison writes in such a detailed manner about the processes and the social narrative that it would seem he had interviewed Creswick as he had done in the other articles (2).
Davison was fulsome in his praise, and the article was used as a basis for the article in the Contract Journal of 1888. The following extracts show how well the frieze was received.
After giving a description of each panel, the article proceeds:
“Such is the description of our modern frieze, a work which itself is sufficient to make any man famous, and taken in conjunction with the fact that the talent which produced this design is prolific, teeming with subjects of similar vitality and interest, and that the man who possess this talent has himself sprung from the workmen themselves, it may be we have in our very midst a parallel to Giotto from among his sheep. For Creswick the artist who designed and modelled this frieze, and who also modelled the head of Carlyle on the tablet in Cheyne Walk, is or rather was a Sheffield grinder, a workman working with his hands, and doing in his earlier years similar work to that which he illustrated with such marvellous plastic skill. Imperfections there may be, no doubt; but the true interest and vitality of the work, and the beauty of artistic grouping are not to be gainsaid…..It is due to the influence of Professor Ruskin’s little museum at Sheffield that the genius of the young grinder found its true bent, and received its encouraging direction; and under Professor Ruskin’s own guidance, and in diligent study of the great art critic’s works, has the young sculptor found his true power.”
After some discussion of Creswick’s career, the article mentions the projected frieze for Heath the Hatters (3) saying “in this seemingly uninteresting and modern subject we shall, no doubt, see the development of an historical as well as a modern treatment of the workmen as far beyond our preconceived expectation of the subject as is so wonderfully carried out in the frieze of the Cutlers Hall. Sheffield may well be proud of its production, and Ruskin of the success of his follower.”
Also Ward Jackson, 2003, pp. 429-431
The Contract Journal This article was syndicated to the Sheffield Independent which published it on 31st December 1888, saying that the Contract Journal had published it in the week before.
(2) The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent 4th May 1887, This was syndicated from the British Architect but the exact details are not given in the cutting I have, although they usually seem to publish these syndicated articles within the same month.