ARTHUR JOSEPH GASKIN
Born in Birmingham, Gaskin was an illustrator, jewellery designer, silversmith, painter, and a designer for William Morris’s Kelmscott Press. He spent his childhood in Wolverhampton until he and his family returned to Birmingham in 1879. In 1883, he enrolled at The Birmingham School of Art. In 1894, Gaskin married a fellow student, Georgie Evelyn Cave France, also a designer, with whom he would develop a long and successful collaborative working relationship.
From 1898, he produced many works in tempera, likely inspired by a visit to Italy in 1897 with close friend Joseph Southall (1861-1944). On the Common, dated 1909, was executed when Gaskin had mastered the medium fully. In 1903, Gaskin turned much of his attention to metalwork, enamelling, and designing of jewellery with his wife. He had been a member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society since 1890, and they both contributed works regularly. He also worked for the Birmingham School of Jewellery and Silversmithing, and eventually became a Member of both the Art Workers Guild and the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers.
Gaskin developed a strongly individual style in each of his various fields. However, one can detect elements of the Newlyn School in his earlier paintings, as well as influences of Burne-Jones in his works of the 1890s where he adopted a more linear Arts and Crafts style evident in his red chalk drawings of 1891; perhaps even a touch of Whistler may be observed in his portrait of his mother from 1888. The Holbein engravings of the Court of Henry VIII, which hung around the corridors of his home, are also likely to have influenced his work.