William Morris - A Tribute to mark 125 years since his death. By Jemima Haddock

Arts & Crafts Decorative Arts Morris Silk scarf silk tie Silk Ties William Morris

THE WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY - WALTHAMSTOW, LONDON
THE WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY - WALTHAMSTOW, LONDON

THE WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY - WALTHAMSTOW, LONDON

THE WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY - WALTHAMSTOW, LONDON

William Morris, or Topsy to his friends, was the ultimate Renaissance man – trained architect, artist, designer, craftsman, writer, poet, printer, social reformer, political activist and businessman. But his enduring legacy for most of us will be in the archive of timeless textile designs, embodying the fluid elegance of Art Nouveau style, and influenced by nature and the botanic richness of the English countryside.

 

No flower was too humble for his gaze, no animal too reticent. His patterns included the daisy, the marigold, the honeysuckle, the poppy, the tulip, seaweed, rabbits and birds. The garden thrush feasting on English strawberries was to become one of his most recognisable patterns, Strawberry Thief , popular worldwide, in many colour incarnations, decorating anything from cushions to silk scarves.  Rivers were another natural source of inspiration, lending names to many of his works - Bourne, Wandle, Wey and Kennet.

William Morris, or Topsy to his friends, was the ultimate Renaissance man – trained architect, artist, designer, craftsman, writer, poet, printer, social reformer, political activist and businessman. But his enduring legacy for most of us will be in the archive of timeless textile designs, embodying the fluid elegance of Art Nouveau style, and influenced by nature and the botanic richness of the English countryside.

 

No flower was too humble for his gaze, no animal too reticent. His patterns included the daisy, the marigold, the honeysuckle, the poppy, the tulip, seaweed, rabbits and birds.

 

The garden thrush feasting on English strawberries was to become one of his most recognisable patterns, Strawberry Thief , popular worldwide, in many colour incarnations, decorating anything from cushions to silk scarves.

 

Rivers were another natural source of inspiration, lending names to many of his works - Bourne, Wandle, Wey and Kennet.

AUTUMN LEAVES DESIGN DRAWING

AUTUMN LEAVES DESIGN DRAWING

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MORRIS

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MORRIS

THISTLE PRINT DESIGN SKETCH

THISTLE PRINT DESIGN SKETCH

AUTUMN LEAVES DESIGN DRAWING

AUTUMN LEAVES DESIGN DRAWING

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MORRIS

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MORRIS

THISTLE PRINT DESIGN SKETCH

THISTLE PRINT DESIGN SKETCH

Slightly more exotically, Morris extolled the architectural leaves of the acanthus plant, beloved by designers and neoclassical sculptors across the centuries for their elegant, scrolled curves. Morris referenced the acanthus leaf in many works, often layering the foliage to create a rich three-dimensional effect. Another classical reference for William Morris was the pomegranate, the Biblical symbol of everlasting life. In his more figurative work, Morris was deeply influenced by Medievalism and the Gothic Revival movement prevalent in Victorian art.

 

Our eminent Victorian was born in Walthamstow, then a village in Essex and now part of Greater London, in 1834. The house is the site of the William Morris Gallery , one of Fox & Chave’s sources of Morris imagery. Other Fox & Chave licensors for Morris works include the V&A Museum , probably the largest archive of Morris designs in the world, The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Huntington Library in California. Royalties that we pay these institutions are a vital source of income and help museums preserve their precious collections.

 

His friends, influencers and companions were the artists and thinkers of the day and included John Ruskin, political philosopher and art critic, Rosetti, Burnes Jones and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Slightly more exotically, Morris extolled the architectural leaves of the acanthus plant, beloved by designers and neoclassical sculptors across the centuries for their elegant, scrolled curves. Morris referenced the acanthus leaf in many works, often layering the foliage to create a rich three-dimensional effect.

 

Another classical reference for William Morris was the pomegranate, the Biblical symbol of everlasting life. In his more figurative work, Morris was deeply influenced by Medievalism and the Gothic Revival movement prevalent in Victorian art.

 

Our eminent Victorian was born in Walthamstow, then a village in Essex and now part of Greater London, in 1834. The house is the site of the William Morris Gallery, one of Fox & Chave’s sources of Morris imagery. Other Fox & Chave licensors for Morris works include the V&A Museum, probably the largest archive of Morris designs in the world, The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Huntington Library in California.

 

Royalties that we pay these institutions are a vital source of income and help museums preserve their precious collections.

 

His friends, influencers and companions were the artists and thinkers of the day and included John Ruskin, political philosopher and art critic, Rosetti, Burnes Jones and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Morris’ passions were art, crafting, printing and social reform. He wrote and painted prolifically but he also dyed his own yarns, printed his own textiles, trained young weavers, worked on glass, ceramics and with wood. He spearheaded the British Arts & Crafts Movement, founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, embraced Marxism and started the Socialist League. In his final years, he created the Kelmscott Press, to publish small runs of handprinted and illustrated books. The Press was named after the manor house he rented in the Cotswolds, which he described as ‘heaven on earth’ and where artists and political friends gathered to share ideas.

Morris’ passions were art, crafting, printing and social reform. He wrote and painted prolifically but he also dyed his own yarns, printed his own textiles, trained young weavers, worked on glass, ceramics and with wood.

 

He spearheaded the British Arts & Crafts Movement, founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, embraced Marxism and started the Socialist League.

 

In his final years, he created the Kelmscott Press, to publish small runs of handprinted and illustrated books. The Press was named after the manor house he rented in the Cotswolds, which he described as ‘heaven on earth’ and where artists and political friends gathered to share ideas.

In 1861 Morris founded Morris, Marshal, Faulkner & Co with colleagues and friends to produce textiles. This became Morris & Co in 1875 until 1940 and is currently part of Saunderson & Co.

Fashion for Morris patterns is universal and timeless, although there are peaks of interest as anyone who remembers the 1970s will attest, when it seemed that every other home in Britain boasted a Morris sofa covers, curtains or wallpaper.  A recent spike of interest saw H&M create a range of William Morris clothing. Other commercial associations are enduring.

In 1861 Morris founded Morris, Marshal, Faulkner & Co with colleagues and friends to produce textiles. This became Morris & Co in 1875 until 1940 and is currently part of Saunderson & Co.

 

Fashion for Morris patterns is universal and timeless, although there are peaks of interest as anyone who remembers the 1970s will attest, when it seemed that every other home in Britain boasted a Morris sofa covers, curtains or wallpaper.  A recent spike of interest saw H&M create a range of William Morris clothing. Other commercial associations are enduring.

Liberty, the iconic London department store, was founded in 1860s by Arthur Liberty, a draper’s son from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, where, coincidentally, Fox & Chave is based. Liberty was a very early adherent of textile designs from Thomas Wardle, a silk printer, whose collection included William Morris. Hence, William Morris silk ties and silk scarves became symbols of the Liberty brand, beloved by the sartorially-elegant all over the world.

Liberty, the iconic London department store, was founded in 1860s by Arthur Liberty, a draper’s son from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, where, coincidentally, Fox & Chave is based.

 

Liberty was a very early adherent of textile designs from Thomas Wardle, a silk printer, whose collection included William Morris. Hence, William Morris silk ties and silk scarves became symbols of the Liberty brand, beloved by the sartorially-elegant all over the world.

 

Fox & Chave is very proud to follow in this classic tradition and our Collection includes a wide selection of William Morris silk ties and scarves silk scarf designs, in all our favourite fabrics, including chiffon silk, crepe de chine, habotai and the timeless silk twill square. Seek out classic patterns like Strawberry Thief, Pomegranate, Golden Lily , Bourne and many others on this website.

Morris hated ugliness and shoddy workmanship. His passion was for beauty and good craftmanship. In an age of clutter and materialism, we would do well to heed his best-remembered advice: ‘Don’t keep anything in your house unless it is beautiful or useful’.

 

 

Fox & Chave is very proud to follow in this classic tradition and our Collection includes a wide selection of William Morris silk ties and scarves silk scarf designs, in all our favourite fabrics, including chiffon silk, crepe de chine, habotai and the timeless silk twill square.

 

Seek out classic patterns like Strawberry Thief, Pomegranate, Golden Lily , Bourne and many others on this website.

 

Morris hated ugliness and shoddy workmanship. His passion was for beauty and good craftmanship. In an age of clutter and materialism, we would do well to heed his best-remembered advice: ‘Don’t keep anything in your house unless it is beautiful or useful’.

 


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