By Ashleigh Harvey, Club21 Intern
We are very pleased to receive not only one but two copies of a book lost in the Mackintosh library fire: A History of Wood-Engraving by Douglas Percy Bliss (1900-1984). Both will be a great addition to the growing collection as one is dated 1928 when the book was first published and the other a 1964 edition. Douglas Percy Bliss was the director of Glasgow School of Art from 1946 to 1964 and it was under his guidance that the School saw a renewal in the importance of design teaching. This led to the creation of the three reconstructed departments of Interior, Textile, and Industrial Design, providing them with workshops and raising them to the status of Diploma subjects.
During his time in Glasgow Bliss worked to save the Mackintosh tea-rooms and made determined efforts to encourage critical appreciation of the city’s beautiful architecture. He enlisted the help of people such as the German-born British scholar of history of art Nikolaus Pevsner to help with his campaign, showing a real passion in saving it. As well as his love for Glasgow, Bliss was also known for being a wood engraver and as a historian of the subject.
In 1925 the Oxford University Press published the Border ballads that Bliss had selected and engraved. Following this he received a number of commissions, one of which was to write A History of Wood Engraving in 1928, the book we have kindly been donated. This book was met with such critical acclaim that his renown as an artist was overshadowed by his new reputation as a teacher and critic.
Interestingly, the 1928 edition we have received once belonged to another artist, Edmund Hort New, who has signed it with his name and address and added a bookplate he designed. This unique, personal copy introduces Edmund Hort New to the library collection alongside a warm welcome back to Douglas Percy Bliss.