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  • Date:

    1863 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fildes, Samuel Luke KB, KCVO, RA (Sir), born 1844 - died 1927 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour, bodycolour and gold paint on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case Q, shelf 12, box B

Object Type
This is one of a set of four highly finished designs for presentation to the examiners of the 'National Competition'. The National Art Library collected drawings for the applied arts from 1852. This example was bought to be used as a teaching aid by the School of Design (now the Royal College of Art).

Design & Designing
The influence of engraved ornament can be seen in Fildes' use of delicate pattern for this design. These forms were also used in a set of playing cards designed by Virgil Solis, a goldsmith from Nuremberg, in the early 16th century. The arabesque forms also show the influence of Owen Jones' book The Grammar of Ornament (1856), which was used as a teaching aid in art schools.

Owen Jones (1809-1874) was one of a number of celebrated artists who designed the backs of playing cards for the London firm of De la Rue. Jones used floral motifs as well as drawing on other features from a variety of sources that appeared in his Grammar of Ornament. The label has been signed by Richard Redgrave, who was the head of the National Art Training School in 1863.

Subjects Depicted
The design incorporates stylised floral forms, which most closely resemble a type of convolvulus.


1863 (made)


Fildes, Samuel Luke KB, KCVO, RA (Sir), born 1844 - died 1927 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour, bodycolour and gold paint on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Incsribed in ink on a label stuck on the back of the mount: 'National Scholarship Rich Redgrave Sep 1863'


Height: 10 cm, Width: 6.8 cm

Object history note

Designed by Sir Luke Fildes (born in Liverpool, 1843, died in London, 1927)

Descriptive line

Designs for the backs of playing cards

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

The Perfect Place to Grow. 175 Years of the Royal College of Art London: RCA, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-907342-51-6.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Both these designs won prizes in the 'National Competition', established in 1863. It provided funds for 15 students annually to study at the National Art Training School at South Kensington. Both these National Scholars became famous. After studying at South Kensington Luke Fildes became an engraver and successful oil painter. Kate Greenaway's famous illustrations of children's books were admired by John Ruskin. [27/03/2003]




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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