A Glasgow School mirror by Helen Muir Wood

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For sale is this rare Helen Muir Wood Glasgow School mirror.  This exact mirror appears in The Studio Volume XIX, Issue 86, May 1900, page 239 – see images.  The mirror is made of classic repousse copper on wood in Glasgow Style, not dis-similar to the work of Talwyn Morris.

Helen Muir Wood (1864-1930) is one of the less known but important woman contributors of the Glasgow School.  She seems to have started at the Glasgow School of Art in around the early 1880s when she was a teenager. She is featured in the book edited by Jude Burkhauser, “Glasgow Girls – Women in Art and Design 1880 – 1920 which states that she trained with the Mackintosh group from the 1880’s until c. 1900, and was later teacher of enamels at the School.

Muir Wood worked in metal and stained glass and painted ceramics. Several pieces by her in metal [including this mirror] are illustrated in the important 1900 Studio article on Glasgow Designers.  As a member of the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists’ Club she exhibited in their annual exhibitions, at the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, and with the School of Art Exhibition in Cork in 1902.

The 1900 Studio article states “Some of the metal work exhibits were quite well designed, showing a peculiarly sympathetic treatment, with no sharp edges to be damaged or to inflict damage, beauty of form being obtained by mass rather than line. The finger plates by Miss Harvey, mirror frame by Miss Muir-Wood, candle sconce and white metal jewel casket by Miss Dewar, all of which we illustrate, are excellent in design and execution, and worthy of study.

Muir Wood was a regular contributor to the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists’, with frequent newspaper mentions: In 1900, “Among the more notable exhibits we may mention the brass work of Miss Margaret Wilson, the beautiful articles stamped in leather by Mrs MacLaren, some charmingly decorated prises and bowls by Miss Helen Walton, and the contributions of Miss White and Miss Muir” (Northern Daily Mail, 12th March 1900) . In 1902 “A bit of tapestry by Miss Jane Younger and repousse sconces by Miss Helen Muir Wood are interesting features” (Gentlewoman, London, 22nd March 1902.). In 1905, “articles in beaten metal by Miss Margaret Wilson, Miss Marion Wilson, Miss Thompson and Miss Muir Wood” (Daily Record, Lanarkshire, 27th November 1905).  In 1911, “Interesting examples of beaten brass are sent by Marion. H. Wilson, Helen Muir Wood and Mary B. Gilmour.” (The Queen, London, 6th May 1911).

The condition of this mirror is excellent and original.  There are just a few missing pins and the odd small bruise and scratch, of no consequence.

Maker: Helen Muir Wood

Designer: Helen Muir Wood

Date: c. 1900

Marks: Unmarked

Material: Copper

Condition: Excellent

Size: 70 x 48cm

Weight : NM

SKU: A1123 Category:


Helen Stephen Wood (Muir-Wood) was born in Glasgow in May of 1864. Her father was John Muir Wood and her mother was Helen Kemlo Stephen. Her father John Muir-Wood (1805-1892) was a Scottish musician, piano maker, music publisher and an early amateur photographer.  He established the piano and music publishing firm of John Muir Wood & Co on Buchanan Street in Glasgow. Wood was a keen amateur photographer producing his photographs using a calotype process. His collection of more than 900 images, believed by experts to be the first serious series of landscape pictures of Scotland, are part of the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland. An exhibit of this collection was held at the National Gallery of Scotland in 2008. The collection is permanently held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The family relocated from Edinburgh to Glasgow sometime in the late 1880s. They are shown living at 17 Rosslyn Street in Glasgow in 1891 and 1901. Helen appears to have been visiting her uncle George Wood in Hove in Sussex in 1891.  The family home in Rosslyn Terrace is a short walk from the Glasgow School of Art.

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Art nouveau, Arts and crafts