Basic Biographical Details

Name: Audsley & Audsley
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1863
Ended: After 1895
Bio Notes: George Ashdown Audsley was born in Elgin on 3 June 1838. He was articled to Alexander and William Reid of Elgin c.1852 and at the end of his apprenticeship in 1856 he moved to Liverpool. His RIBA nomination papers do not give any information on his early years there, but from American sources he is known to have spent some time with the City Surveyor John Weightman and with John Cunningham with whom he was briefly in partnership. In 1863 he formed a partnership with his elder brother William James Audsley, born in Elgin in 1833, who had also been articled to the Reids; in the early years their practice included key-making as well as architecture. The Audsleys designed a significant number of buildings in and around Liverpool, mostly Ruskinian but their Racquet Court (1879) was Thomsonesque Greek and their synagogue Moorish. The last of these brought the commission to design a church on St Petersburgh Place, London in association with the Jewish architect Nathan Solomon Joseph in 1877-79, and a London office was opened in 1881, partly to deal with their numerous publications. Both brothers were admitted FRIBA on 12 June 1876, their proposers being Edward Robert Robson and Robert William Edis of London and Joseph Boult of Liverpool.

The Audsleys' career as authors of books on architecture and design began in Liverpool with the publication of the 'Guide to the Art of Illuminating and Missal Painting' (1861) and the 'Handbook of Christian Symbolism' (1865), both of which had pioneering chromolithograph plates. These were followed by 'Cottage, Lodge and Villa Architecture', published in Edinburgh in 1868, again with chromolithographed plates. By the early 1870s they had become leading exponents of the Japanese in the 'Keramic Art of Japan' (1875) and 'The Ornamental Arts of Japan' (1882-84), these being related to their client James L Bowes who was an important collector. Their 'Outlines of Ornament in the Leading Styles' published in London in 1881 and in New York in 1882 led to a visit to New York in the following years and a chance meeting with the Milwaukee art collector Frederick Layton on the voyage home. Layton asked them to sketch out an art gallery which was built in 1885-87 and supervised by E Townsend Mix. Carried out partly in timber and terracotta, it was perhaps the finest expression of Thomsonesque Greek Revival designs outwith Thomson's own oeuvre. One of the Audsleys made a visit to the Midwest in the summer of 1889, sailing for home on 20 July.

In 1892 the Audsleys removed their practice to New York. This move may have related to the success of their publications there, but it also seems to have been connected with the commission from a consortium of English investors to design the sixteen-storey Bowling Green Building at 3-11 Broadway, built in 1895. This had a very modern pilastered treatment at the upper floors and high-quality detail at the lower floors. Other commissions included the Gothic church of Edward the Confessor in Philadelphia and the English church at Grasse in France. A substantial part of their practice in America related to organs, George having become interested in organ building at St George's Hall in Liverpool, probably during his period with Weightman, to the extent of having a large and elaborate organ in his London house for musical evenings. In the USA he became the principal advocate of the concert organ, an instrument of such wide range that it could function as a full orchestra, his ideas on the subject being embodied in 'The Art of Organ Building', published in 1905. In his later New York years, George retired from architecture to devote his time wholly to organ building and publications, working chiefly with his son Berthold rather than his brother William who retired or died c.1910. He settled in a large hilltop house in Bloomfield, New Jersey where he died on 21 June 1925. His profession was given as writer and organ builder rather than as architect.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 214, Cook Street, Liverpool, EnglandBusiness1876 *  
Item 2 of 2New York, New York, United States of AmericaBusiness1892  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2William James Audsley1863After 1895Partner 
Item 2 of 2George Ashdown Audsley1863After 1895Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 11874Cawdor Castle  NairnshireScotlandProposals for the infilling of the N courtyard to creat 'King Duncan's Hall' - not executed


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 6Dictionary of American Biography Dictionary of American Biography   
Item 2 of 6Grove Dictionary of Art Grove Dictionary of Art   
Item 3 of 6Jervis, Simon1984The Penguin Dictionary of Design and Designers   
Item 4 of 6Placzek, Adolf K (ed)1982Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects New York: The Free Press/Macmillan Publishing Company 
Item 5 of 6Walker Art Gallery2003The Audsleys: Victorian Pattern Designers (Walker Art Gallery Exhibition) Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery 
Item 6 of 6Withey, Henry F and Withey, Elsie Rathburn1970Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased)Facsimile editionLos Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc (originally published in 1956) 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Alexander Thomson Society NewsletterJanuary 1992no 3  
Item 2 of 4Alexander Thomson Society NewsletterSeptember 2000no 27  
Item 3 of 4American Art Annual1925v22 Obituary of George Ashdown Audsley
Item 4 of 4Building News7 March 1890