George Reid’s Piano and Piano Stool


GeorgeReid’s Piano and Piano Stool


Thisstudy aims at investigating the 20thCentury Art and Craft movement by investigating the Piano and PianoStool by George A. Reid in 1900. The aim is to closely examine thestyles and techniques that he employed in his famous piano and thepiano stool. The type materials used and their availability will alsobe examined to find out Reid’s motive in using them. The aim isalso to compare and contrast the crafted objects between the 20thand 21stcentury. In the light of this, this study will further seek thecontributions of this particular piano and piano stool to thecraftsmanship of the subsequent 21stcentury.

Duringthe 20th century, that applied arts had a lesser meaning orsignificance to people. This craft object was intended to spur therecognition and appreciation of applied arts and arts in general. Thestudy will examine whether he achieved his intended mission. ThePiano and Piano Stool under study easily transitioned the appliedarts to fine art in that period. Its general expression is wellcrafted to bring out an appealing and beautiful art. It is importantto note the objectivity of indulging in the arts has over the yearsvaried. The study will seek to know whether this piano and pianostool represented any social or political ideologies, and whetherthey were achieved if any.

Thisstudy will also investigate Reid’s objectives and the relationshipbetween his individualism and the crafted object. It is important tostudy the subjects of inspirations that spurred the creation of thisunique piano. Beauty is an essential attribute to craft objects.However the type of beauty varies with the objectivity of creation,technique employed and the material used. This examination will seekthe type of beauty that was achieved by Reid.

GeorgeReid’s Piano and Piano Stool

Thechosen craft object that I feel best represents the aspects of 20thcentury craft history is Piano and Piano Stool by George A. Reid. Hewas an historical enthusiast in the art and craft movement. Thispiano was carefully and well crafted in 1900 (National Gallery,2015). The piano cabinet contained oil oak that was stained andwaxed. Reid employed his unique knowledge on painting by having threeoil paintings on the wood. The oak was also stained and waxed. Theestimate measurements for the bench piano are 145.6 x 159.5 x 72.3cm and for the stool were 53.2 x 105.5 x 29.7 (National Gallery,2015).

(NationalGallery of Canada, 2015)

Reidis a renowned advocate of art and craft movement in Canada (NationalGallery, 2015). He had immense passion and raised the standards ofapplied arts and as a result, it was more appreciated. He used thearts as a way of creating awareness of civic ideas by using it as asocial function. It is worth noting that his unique work illustratedhis commitment and dedication to ideal art fusion(Triggs, 2009). Hencehis creation of the piano and the piano stool that is an essentialobject in the history of art and craft movement in his homeland. Thisobject is still on exhibit amongst his murals in the National Galleryof Toronto.

Thepiano and piano stool is a significant object of study, because itwas created at a time when applied arts had lesser meaning in the20th century. When Reid created this object he validated the formerly‘lesser’ applied arts by his great knowledge and ideals in artfusion. It had his paintings and contained themes of music andnature. It sought to fuse all that with applied arts. It became thefirst exhibit in Canada for applying arts. The piano and piano stoolraised more zest for commitments in the arts and craft movement inToronto.

Itwas rarely the architectural framework to contain art before 1900(Haulgh, 2008). The piano and piano stool performed its role well inthe provision of material history in 20th century craft. This isbecause of the skill of humanizing the crafted forms and its honestoutlook. The 20thcentury crafts were objects that were mainly used to advocate forsocial or political reforms(Triggs, 2009). Inthe case example of the piano, it was used to advocate forrecognition and raise the status of applied arts. They used materialsand methods that are completely nonexistent to the industrial craftproduction. It emphasized the use of hands rather than machinery. Andthus, they were able to offer alternatives to the prominent existingcultures and actually offer challenges.

Whileduring the 20th century the craftsmen were maintained completecontrol the object’s design and the execution and were also able toretain that of the object (Adamson, 2010). This piece alsodifferentiates from artistic craft because it captures a moment intime and George, is more concerned about his style and technique. Anartistic craftsman went beyond demonstrating the artist’s positionat the time, but rather gives a statement of identity (Adamson,2010). The 20th century crafts gave out information on the life ofits creator at the time of its creation.

The20th century crafts were predominated by an obsession with the markon the hand. The craft generally demonstrated the relationships ofthe material, the made object and it sought to capture an ideologicalposition of the maker (Adamson, 2007). All these values are notdefined in 21st century crafts. Contemporary crafts do not easilyoffer the cultural position of the makers. Instead, they are createdwith an obsession of beauty to achieve economic bliss. Therefore,they were overly decorated and very expensive (Adamson, 2007). Inthis context, even if they were made for use, the purchaser would notuse them. For this reason they lacked meaning in the sense of need inthe daily ordinary lives of the people. They did not have any definedvalues that made them stand out.

ThePiano and Piano Stool represents early crafts known as the ‘folkarts’. It was traditionally made crafts that were mostly inspiredby nature (Adamson, 2010). Unlike other forms of art, this particularpiece posses an intimacy quality with its maker. Meaning that it wasmeant for everyday use and that made the maker feel and touch itevery day. And that touch would respond to a feeling of pleasure.Unlike in the 21st century crafts where they lack this importantquality that was a basic requirement in the 20th century(Triggs, 2009). Basicallyby pointing its use, it was essential to perform certain functions tothe user. This means that using this piano for instance evoked afeeling of pleasure to anyone using it.

Increating the Piano and Piano Stool, Reid infused beautiful paintingand crafted a unique object with attractive design. In so doing, hebrought out the beauty of the piano that appeal to the audience. Thismeans that people would only expect beautiful music to be produced bythe piano, because the piano had already created beauty in theirminds. This is an important aspect that he used attractive and uniquestyle and pattern to achieve an appealing look. Most craftsessentially represent the individuality of the maker (Adamson, 2007).It is important to note that he used unique styles and patterns thatwere non-existence at the time to best express his uniqueindividuality. This is a culture that is lacking in the 21st centurycrafts.

Mostimportantly, Reid has successfully demonstrated the aspect ofintegrating arts and the people are around him. By solely creatingthis masterpiece in the world of music, he addresses the social needsof the people (Adamson, 2010). People are able to get satisfactionnot just from the beauty of that piano, but also from the music thatit was able to play. The usefulness it represented in addressing thesocial needs. Unlike most objects in the 21st century, Reid did notalienate himself from the people by creating an overly decorated andexpensive piece. This way, he harmonizes people and craftsmanship.

Themost distinct characteristic that separates this particular objectfrom the now more sophisticated crafts is the choice of the materialsand employed creative technique. Reid’s piano has been inspired bynaturally available materials like the oak wood (Lemire et al, 2014).It is important to also note that the tools employed are fewer innumber. Their technique of crafting ensured durability of the piano.Unlike in the 21st century that is mostly colored by competitivenessto getting a high market share, thus producing low quality ornondurable objects. Reid’s piano and also the earliest forms ofcrafts sought to address their intended usefulness function ratherthan the economic benefits that came from the production.

Themain strength of this piano is that it was intended for use. Itbrought about the value of the things in the past that were requiredin everyday ordinary life and were considered beautiful. Like othet20thcentury crafts, it was created without the obsession of beauty in themind(Triggs, 2009). Itwas created to bring about a sense of uniqueness, simplicity andbeauty. This ensured continuous use by the masses which guaranteedmore familiarizing to the employed technique. This averted anyproblems of that may arise in future by the loss of its existence inthe art and craft industry. A problem such as losing its meaning thatwas a fundamental purpose of creation (Adamson, 2010).

However,it is important to note that there exist some similarities betweenthe 20th century crafts and the 21st century. The first similarity isthat each had unique beauty. Beauty is a relative term in craft, bothachieved their own beauty. This was through use in the dailyintegration of the crafted objects to the daily life or it could meanbeauty of unique decorations that evoked a feeling of adoration.

Reid’sobject made an impact on the arts and craft movement in the 20thcentury. By clearly utilized a new technique that integrated craftand fine art. He introduced a new form of craft culture that soughtto address the social needs, as well as serving the purpose ofartisanship. He helped through this object and more to people toappreciate and embrace applied arts, which was formerly overlooked(Haulgh, 2008). Though is knowledge, he was able to affirm thetraditional beliefs that art is inspired by nature. And his work bestappreciates this aspect of the basic traditional craftsmanship, whichincorporated natural phenomena’s as the basic objects ofinspiration to create natural beauty.


Adamson,G. (2007). Thinkingthrough the craft. London. Bloomsbury:Academic press.

Adamson,G. (2010). TheCraft Reader.London. Bloomsbury: Academic press.

Haulgh,G.P. (2008). Thepersistence of the craft. The applied arts.New Jersey. Rutgers University Press.

Lemire,B., Buis, A., &amp Helland, J. (2014). Craft,community and the material culture of places and politics.London: Ashgate publishers

NationalGallery of Canada. (2015). GeorgeA. Reid.Retrieved from&lt October, 2015

NationalGallery of Canada. (2015). Collections.Retrieved from&lt October, 2015

Triggs,O.L. (2009). Arts&amp Crafts Movement.New York: Parkstone International