Sunday, September 21, 2008

Manxman Piano by MH Baillie Scott

MH Baillie Scott pioneered the 'Manxman' piano in London, England during the year of 1896.  Six to seven years later, around 1902-03, the masterpiece was ready for use.  This hand crafted piano was caringly constructed from ebonized mahogany, carved wood, pewter, mother of pearl, marquetry of stained woods and silver-plated handles and hinges.  Baillie Scott’s rectilinear form appears to be simple and thought provoking in construction, by simply adding barriers to enclose a box around the instrument. The dimensions are approximately, H 3’ x H 4’ x D 2’.  This was a new concept of the 1980’s due to the fact that the piano was generally large and complex, with many carved embellishments. His unique idea was to hide the keyboard, music stand and candleholders behind broad doors, which in return would downsize the mass of the instrument. Alongside the bland black box, Baillie Scott incorporated eye-catching artistry detail on both the inside and the outside of the container. The dominant paintings and materials provide contrast in color and texture by his placing of mainly browns, greens and creams against the black base. This was a style technique he portrayed in much of his artwork.  The Manxman piano was commented and admired by the critics but, unfortunately it never turned out as a commercial success.  Its estimated production in London was a mere 40 examples.  In addition, Baillie Scotts’ piano failed to sell until 1910 when, a piano dealer, J.C. Shirwin & Sons of Hanley, Staffordshire decided to purchase it at a discount price. Some critics believed it was much similar to a 17th-century Spanish chest on a stand or inspired by ‘an old strong box of the Elizabethan period’.  Coincidentally are both forms that inspired The Arts and Crafts designers of the late 19th century. (http://

Similar Piece

The ‘Biscuit Tin’ by Boorne & Stevens Huntley and the 'Manxman' piano were designed around 1903. However this is not the only similarity they have in common, both are also containers enclosing a good.  Lastly, both are lavishly decorated in the appropriate places for the viewer to enjoy.

Different Piece

The ‘Bean Bag’ is much different from the ‘Manxman’ piano in many ways.  First, the beanbag is used to be relaxed and comfortable while sitting while the piano is designed for proper posture and concentration while using the instrument. Also the beanbag is made of soft fabric while the piano is constructed of solid wood. The beanbag contains small Styrofoam balls and the Manxman has a piano in it.  Lastly, the piano would be found in a sophisticated living area while the beanbag would be more likely found in a playroom. 

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