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W I L L I A M M O R R I S William Morris (1834 - 1896) was perhaps the most important British decorative artist of the 19th century. A prolific designer, craftsman and decorator, his work and ideas have had a major influence on the development of modern interior design. William Morris was one of the most influential figures in the Victorian and Edwardian art world. As a young man at Oxford he became involved with the Pre-Raphaelite movements, mixing with such artists as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Always a man of innovation, Morris soon tired of the subject matter and philosophy of the Pre-Raphaelites. His desire for social reform was also an important factor in his artistic growth and he moved on from painting to the creation of textiles, wallpapers, stained glass and highly decorative furniture. ...read more.


"Henceforward there is an absolute divorce between the commercial process and the art of printing. Anyone wanting to produce dyed textiles with any artistic quality in them must entirely forego the modern and commercial methods in favour of those which are at least as old as Pliny..." In other words, William Morris ended his connection with Clarkson (who printed the design) and abandoned production of Tulip and Willow. He also set up a tiny dye house in the basement and scullery of his house in Queen Square, hoping that he might find his own solution to the problem. In fact it was only in 1883, after he had established himself at Merton Abbey, that he was finally able to produce a satisfactory printing of Tulip and Willow. Preliminary Design Morris's intricate flower patterns, which seem so effortless and casual in their final form, were achieved after long hours of patient designing and the production of dozens of different designs. ...read more.


Four Tiles Little is known about these tiles. The name of the design has not been identified and they cannot be linked with any specific commission. Nevertheless, they are typical of the work that was produced by Morris and his associates at around the time of the Membland Hall commission. Small, horizontal panels of this kind were frequently installed as over mantels; they were also used to brighten up a dull item of furniture. They can often be found adorning the top of a wooden washstand. Morris's tile designs had developed considerably since the early days of the Firm. Initially, they reflected the widespread reawakening of interest in medieval tiles that came about as part of the Gothic revival. It is very likely that the tiles which the Firm put on show at the International Exhibition in 1862 fell into this category. By the mid-1870s, however, he was more attuned to the tastes of his well-heeled clients. Accordingly, the patterns became much closer to his textile and wallpaper designs. They take the form of leaves and tendrils, intertwining rhythmically in a foretaste of Art Nouveau. ...read more.

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