Papers of Jessie Marion King, 1875-1949, designer and illustrator & Ernest Archibald Taylor, 1874-1951, designer and artist

Scope and Content

Papers of the artists Jessie Marion King and Ernest Archibald Taylor, including correspondence, presscuttings, exhibition catalogues, photographs and printed books

Administrative / Biographical History

Jessie Marion King was born in Bearsden, Glasgow in 1875, the daughter of Mary Ann Anderson and Reverend James W King of New Kilpatrick Parish, Glasgow. She studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1892-1899. She won a travelling scholarship from the School and which enabled her to travel to France and Italy. It was in Italy that she was influenced by the paintings of Botticelli. Her long and varied professional career began when, in 1899, a Berlin department store owner commissioned her to design a range of items, requesting that they be done in the new Scottish style. Book design and illustration dominated her early work, but her talents extended over many areas: posters, bookplates, book covers, jewelry, ceramics, wallpaper, fabrics, murals, interior design, and costumes. In 1902, her efforts as a book designer were recognized with a gold medal in the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Turin for the book L'Evangile de l'Enfance. Starting that same year, King taught Book Decoration at Glasgow School of Art, influencing others with her sense of design. King retained her maiden name after her marriage, no doubt because of the success she had already attained.

E A Taylor was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1874, the fifteenth of seventeen children of an army major. Initially apprenticed in the Glasgow shipbuilding industry on the River Clyde, he trained as an artist at the Glasgow School of Art, where he met and married Jessie in 1908. They moved to Salford, where he designed for George Wragge Ltd, producing many designs for stained-glass windows, including domestic work for the Scottish engineer Sir William Arrol at Seafield House in Ayr. In 1910, King and Taylor moved to Paris where they lived until the outbreak of World War I. Here Taylor was a professor at the Studio School of Drawing and Painting, and, together with King, they ran a studio gallery called the Shealing Atelier of Oil and Watercolour Painting, Design and the Applied Arts.

They spent their summers on the Isle of Arran, where they ran a summer sketching school. They settled in the artist community of Kirkcudbright in 1920, where King established Green Gate Close, an important centre for women artists. King was the creative force in the Close and maintained a studio there where she worked on ceramics. Sometimes, she and Taylor would collaborate on furniture or interior design. King experimented with batik, a wax-resist technique that she learned while in Paris, applying it to fabric and clothing. She was instrumental in introducing the technique to Scotland by giving classes at Green Gate. Many of her scarf designs were bought by the London department store, Liberty's. Jessie died on 3 August 1949 in Kirkcudbright, and Ernest in 1951.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

Purchased : Sotheby's : 20 June 1986 : ACCN 4613

Other Finding Aids

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Advance notice required

Custodial History

Not known

Related Material

Accompanying printed books shelved at RB 3380-3387, 3433 and RQ 1380 - see Rare Books search for details.