Louis Osman FRIBA (1914 – 1996)
Proposal details for St John’s Smith Square (1953)
74 x 46 cm
Signed in red crayon lower right.
Details from Louis Osman’s proposal for the post-war, post-bombing redevelopment of St John’s church on Smith Square. Osman had envisioned an interior with a ceiling painted by Picasso; sadly, this project was never executed.
The church was bombed in 1941 and gutted by fire; subsequently, the church was a ruin open to the sky for over 20 years. It was saved by Lady Parker of Waddington, who formed the Friends of St John’s in 1962 to raise money and restore the church to its former glory – a reconstruction in the style of the church’s original architect, Thomas Archer.
Osman was as much an artist as an architect. This is likely a portfolio piece from his time studying at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and is as such a piece of architectural history as well as a beautiful Osman design. Osman was awarded a First Class degree and the Donaldson Medal of the RIBA (for the best result in his year group) by the Bartlett, and then went on to the Slade School of Art. He subsequently trained with Sir Albert Richardson – we also have several Richardson works in our collection.
After the war, Osman busied himself as an architect. His work included contributions to Westminster Abbey, and Lincoln, Exeter, Ely, and Lichfield Cathedrals, Staunton Harold Church in Ashby de la Zouch for the National Trust, and of course his folly: the Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire, now a National Trust property.
At Canons Ashby he established a workshop and had a team of silversmiths and goldsmiths working for him. In 1976 he made the gold enamelled coffin that holds the copy of the Magna Carta on view in the United States Capitol, Washington, DC.
Condition: generally very good.
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