Picture of the month #5: Artist in butter

Caroline Benson, MERL’s Photographic Assistant has come across a most fascinating craft (which, sadly, definitely isn’t one which will be on display at our Traditional Craft Fair!) We didn’t quite squeeze this particular ‘Picture of the month’ into October, but I think it’s worth the wait!!

This month’s photographs are from a collection recently deposited at MERL. They show a craft, that I must admit, I didn’t know existed. They date from c.1906 and show butter sculptures made by William Burwell, who described himself as an Artist in Butter. The butter sculptures were sold for window decorations & for advertising & commanded quite a price, the basket of roses costing three guineas & larger window displays from between seven and fifty guineas. The sculptures were even exported, one going to New Zealand, where unfortunately the temperature was too hot & so it had to be held in a “cool chamber” until colder weather arrived. Mr Burwell displayed his work at exhibitions & we have a medal that he won at the Universal Cookery & Food Exhibition in 1907. The collection includes a number of glass plate negatives and photograph albums.

Artist in Butter - flower baskets - P BUR PH1_2

Artist in Butter – flower baskets – P BUR PH1_2


Artist in Butter - cockerel - P BUR PH1_1

Artist in Butter – cockerel – P BUR PH1_1




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