”He was an architect, goldsmith, draftsman, art historian and art patron. Most of all he was a creator of genius” - these are the words Graham Hughes, Art Director of the Goldsmiths’ Company, used to describe Louis Osman.
Even as a youth Louis Osman (1914-1996) showed a flair for creativity, channelling his talent into his training at the Bartlett School of Architecture in the 1930s and also studying drawing at the Slade School of Art. Louis began his career as an architect in the office of Sir Albert Richardson and from the beginning was keen to question traditional methods and push design and construction to their limits. He first made his name when he rebuilt the bomb damaged Convent of the Holy Child Jesus on Cavendish Square, London, and much of his other architectural work comprised restorations or extensions to historical buildings, most notably Staunton Harold, Ranston House in Dorset and Shere Church in Surrey. Another architectural tour-de-force was the neo-rennainsance plate glass palazzo Principal’s Lodge he designed for Newnham College, Cambridge.
In the early 1960s “Osman moved out of masonry and into precious metals with grace and apparent ease.” Under the direction of Graham Hughes, the Goldsmiths’ Company commissioned Louis first to design a new treasury for Lincoln Cathedral, and then in 1969 to make the crown which the Company presented to the Queen for the Prince of Wales’ investiture at Carnarvon Castle - “the best known piece of new British gold of [the] century”. As well as his silver and gold work Louis also designed and produced jewellery, mostly for commission, but sometimes for exhibition. The Goldsmiths’ Company later went on to host the ‘Louis Osman Gold Exhibition’ at Goldsmiths’ Hall, also commissioning several further important works from him, including the wonderful ‘Water lilly mazer bowl’ centrepiece, which Dix Noonan Webb are delighted to offered here for sale.
Louis “always undertook meticulous research to ensure his commissions were appropriate for the individual or institutions commissioning them, with the design drawings in pencil, ink and watercolour, often embellished with gold leaf, being works of art in their own right”, and this is clearly demonstrated by the beautiful designs and drawings he produced, and the annotations he added to them, which comprise the second part of his personal archive offered here.
See: Moore, J., Louis Osman (1914-1996): the life and work of an architect and goldsmith, Halsgrove, 2006.