Interior of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham (blotter) thumbnail 1
Interior of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham (blotter) thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Interior of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham (blotter)

Blotter
ca. 1845 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad's in Birmingham was designed by the architect A.W.N. Pugin and built 1839-41. The large scale of the building and the style of the interior, decorated with medieval German carvings also supplied by Pugin, is shown very clearly in the picture on the front of this blotter. The picture is inscribed on the bottom right-hand side with the name of Jennens & Bettridge and, indistinctly, on the bottom left-hand side with the name of the cathedral. The blotter may have been made as a souvenir of the completion of the building, by Jennens & Bettridge, a local firm, who became one of the largest and most successful manufacturers of papier-mâché. They used pictures of churches and other buildings, such as ruined castles, to decorate their products in response to popular interest in medieval life and designs in the 1840s and 1850s.

The back of the blotter has a picture of monks in a stone-flagged interior. Originally it would have been lined with blotting paper which has been replaced by a printed cotton.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted and gilded papier-mâché, with later printed cotton lining
Brief Description
Blotter, painted and gilded papier mâché, decorated with a painting of the interior of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad's Birmingham, made by Jennens & Bettridge, Birmingham, British, about 1845.
Physical Description
Blotting book, painted and gilded papier mâché, decorated with a painting of the Gothic Revival interior of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad's Birmingham, built by A.W.N. Pugin. On the reverse is a vignette depicting four monks with tonsure, wearing dark robes, and conversing in two pairs. They are gathered in an interior with flagstones on the ground and a large framed painting on the wall.
Dimensions
  • Height: 30cm
  • Width: 23cm
  • Depth: 1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Jennens & Bettridge' (Inscription on bottom right hand side of front face of blotter)
  • 'Church of St Chad' (Indistinct inscription on left hand bottom side of front face of blotter)
Credit line
Given by Mr M. L. Horn
Object history
This blotter, formed of two boards with a printed cotton lining, is painted on the front board with a view of the interior of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad's, Birmingham, designed by A.W.N. Pugin 1839-41. The painted interior depicts furnishings designed by Pugin, including the rood screen, and medieval carvings which he supplied, including the pulpit from Louvain. On the left hand corner of the front board is the signature of Jennens & Bettridge, a local firm, who may have produced the blotter as a souvenir following the completion of the Cathedral in 1841. Many of this firm's pâpier-maché products were decorated with views of imaginary Gothic buildings but in some examples, like this blotter, the firm used actual buildings as part of the decoration of their furniture and desk accessories.



The back board is painted with a view of monks in a stone flagged interior. Originally the blotter may have been lined with blotting paper.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad's in Birmingham was designed by the architect A.W.N. Pugin and built 1839-41. The large scale of the building and the style of the interior, decorated with medieval German carvings also supplied by Pugin, is shown very clearly in the picture on the front of this blotter. The picture is inscribed on the bottom right-hand side with the name of Jennens & Bettridge and, indistinctly, on the bottom left-hand side with the name of the cathedral. The blotter may have been made as a souvenir of the completion of the building, by Jennens & Bettridge, a local firm, who became one of the largest and most successful manufacturers of papier-mâché. They used pictures of churches and other buildings, such as ruined castles, to decorate their products in response to popular interest in medieval life and designs in the 1840s and 1850s.



The back of the blotter has a picture of monks in a stone-flagged interior. Originally it would have been lined with blotting paper which has been replaced by a printed cotton.
Bibliographic Reference
The following excerpt is taken from Jones, Yvonne, Japanned Papier-Mâché and Tinware c. 1740-1940. Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club, 2012 (ISBN 978 1 85149 686 0), p. 144. "The partnership between Aaron Jennens (1788-1868) and John Bettridge (b.1790) is one of the best known in the history of the English papier mâché industry. It first appeared in the Birmingham Rate Book for the years 1810-13 when they occupied premises in Lionel Street, where one of their varnish suppliers, Messrs Thornley and Knight, was also situated. ... Between 1851 and 1852, when they were described as the largest manufacturers of papier mâché in England, they had an office in New York, possibly in anticipation of the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, held there in 1853. Though there is now a popular tendency for any unmarked yet good examples of Victorian papier mâché to be attributed to Jennens and Bettridge, there is no doubt that their reputation is justly deserved and of long standing; in their day, they were judged to have 'no rivals, or anything approximating to an equality' (Court, W.B., Rise of the Midland Industries 1600-1838, Oxford University Press, 1965, p.235)."
Collection
Accession Number
W.6-1929

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record createdJune 28, 2005
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