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Sold at Auction: Archibald Knox

Landscape painter


Archibald Knox (9 April 1864 in Cronkbourne village, Braddan[1] near Tromode, Isle of Man – 22 February 1933 in Douglas, Isle of Man), was a Manx designer of Scottish descent. He is best known as being Liberty's primary designer at the height of their success and influence upon UK and International design. Knox's work bridged the Arts and Crafts Movement, Celtic Revival, Art Nouveau, and Modernism. He is seen as a leading figure of the Modern Style movement.

Knox's hundreds of designs for Liberty made his style widely known, though not his name, as Liberty kept their designers anonymous. Most of his work for Liberty was for the Tudric (pewter) and Cymric (precious metals) ranges.[citation needed] The gravestone of Liberty founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, was designed by Knox.[citation needed]

His design talent covered a wide range of objects, ornamental and utilitarian, and included silverware and pewterware, jewellery, inkwells, boxes, gravestones, watercolours, graphic designs, calligraphy, a house design, fonts and even bank cheques.

Archibald Knox was born the 5th child (and 5th son) of William Knox, a cabinet maker and Ann Carmichael in Cronkbourne village, Braddan. His father was living in Kilbirnie in 1853 when he married Ann, who was from the isle of Lismore in Scotland, which was a centre of the medieval Celtic Christian church in the Western Isles. In 1856, the Knoxes moved to the Isle Of Man for a better life, with their firstborn, Robert. William Knox, "an exceptionally ingenious cabinet and machine-maker, joined Moore’s Tromode Works, makers of high quality herring nets and sailcloth." In 1856, William's sister Margaret had been the first Knox to move to Man when she married a Manx fisherman, William Callister. William Knox later started his own firm "William Knox’s Engineering Works" and was joined in his enterprise by four of his sons - only Archibald pursued his own career in art. Besides running a successful steamboat and ferry business, the Knox family mechanised the local fishing fleet, were pioneers in industrial electric lighting on Man and introduced the first motor car to the island. Knox's engineering background may have influenced his design process in that his metalwork designs were produced in the style of ready-to-engineer blueprints.
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