Henry Fitz-Cook’s design for ‘The Fairy Summons’
(The Art-Union, London, 1848, p. 218);
a silver-gilt table bell,
C.T. & G. Fox, London, 1871,
probably retailed by Lambert & Co
(Sotheby’s Belgravia, 10 July 1975, lot 225,
photo: courtesy Sotheby’s, London)
â€˜The Fairy Summons,â€™ a design for a hand bell by the artist Henry Fitz-Cook (1824?-1898), was first published in 1848 among a group of â€˜Original Designs for Manufacturersâ€™ in The Art-Union. The accompanying text explained that the boy whose figure forms the handle had been â€˜startled by the noise of the petals against the leaves,â€™ a conceit which might happily be produced, it said, in a mixture of Parian and metal.
Although no such Parian and metal versions of â€˜The Fairy Summonsâ€™ appear ever to have been made, the retail goldsmiths Martin, Baskett & Martin of Cheltenham took up the challenge. Their exhibit at the Great Exhibition of 1851 included a â€˜Silver toilet bell-handle; design, ”Boy Stopping his ears,”’ to which a contemporary writing in The Crystal Palace and Its Contents (6 December 1851, p. 156) added his own interpretation: â€˜Puck shouts lustily, calling the spirits of the air to do his mistressâ€™s bidding.’
Shakespeareâ€™s mischievous sprite was certainly in Fitz-Cookâ€™s mind when he designed ‘The Day Dreamer’ easy chair for the Birmingham papier-mÃ¢chÃ© manufacturers, Jennens & Bettridge. Instead of shouting or stopping his ears, this Puck, forming part of the chair’s decoration, was discovered ‘lying asleep in a labyrinth of foliage.’
It is a pity that surviving examples of ‘The Fairy Summons’ bell are hard to find. A few from the 1870s and later are known, made by C.T. & G. Fox for the retailers, Lambert & Co of Coventry Street, London.
‘The Day Dreamer’ papier-mÃ¢chÃ© easy chair,
designed by Henry Fitz-Cook for Jennens & Bettridge,
shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851
(The Crystal Palace and Its Contents, London, 3 January 1852, p. 213)
Fitz-Cook, illustrator of William Cowper’s
The Diverting History of John Gilpin (1868),
was a sometime member of
the Society of Arts, London.