Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cecil Sharp

I've shown this photograph before
© William Morris Gallery
Country Dancing Festival at Kelmscott (c.1913)

May and Jane (in the wheelchair)are obvious but the man standing on the extreme left, holding his straw hat is the great folk song collector Cecil Sharp, who collected a lot around Oxfordshire

Edward Coley Burne-Jones - The Golden Stairs 1880

This painting is an example of Edward Burne-Jones’s interest in investigating a mood rather than telling a story. He deliberately made his pictures enigmatic and the meaning of this painting has provoked much debate. One view is that the eighteen women are spirits in an enchanted dream. The painting might also be purely decorative. The underlying idea, popularised in the 1870s by the critic Walter Pater, is that ‘all the arts aspire to the condition of music’. 

There are 18 women and May's face is 8th from the top, holding the violin. 
Other faces are modelled on Frances Graham, Laura Tennant, Mary Millais and Margaret Burne-Jones. Antonia Caiva, a professional model often used by Ned was used for their bodies.

The canvas is 9 feet high by 4 wide. First exhibited at the Grovesner Gallery, 1880.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jenny and May Morris 1870

Jenny and May Morris 1870
George Howard
Kelmscott Manor

Sorry for the scan that book (Jane's Letters) is heavy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

William Morris - Figure of Guinevere c.1858

Watercolour and drawing on paper

In the same year as La Belle Iseult, it seems to be a study of Jane

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Morris Memorial Hall, Kelmscott, Oxfordshire

Commissioned by May Morris and originally designed by Ernest Gimson but not built until after his death. His original designs were changed somewhat by Norman Jewson and the Hall was completed in 1933. When the Hall was officially opened by George Bernard Shaw in October 1934, the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald turned up unannounced. The village was so crowded he was unable to get straight to the Hall and missed Shaw's speech.

May Morris designed the spine of this collection of essays compiled and edited by George Bernard Shaw.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A visit to May Morris, 1925 by Elfrida Manning

‎[Artist: Spartali, Marie (Later Stillman)
Kelmscott Manor

Oil on Canvas 10 x 17 ins from the Buscot Collection]

The house is damp: the plain, old-fashioned piano has to be put on legs in case of floods. But it is most beautiful and nearly everything in it is beautiful. The little dining-room is hung with very faded 'Strawberry-thief' pattern; we had tea there, Miss Morris pouring out lovely China tea. The cake she made herself, as everybody in the house does something to help to run it. Miss Lobb, her friend, who is enormouse and wears a tweed jacket and breeches and has cropped black hair (she is a Cornishwoman) looks after the pony and there is an arty little old secretary and a cook and that is all.

A visit to May Morris, 1925
by Elfrida Manning

Of course there are many drawings of Mrs Morris and a photograph which shows how true the drawings of her were, with her classic profile and wonderful eyes and hair. Miss Morris herself is not so beautiful, but has the same eyes and long,
straight profile. Her hair is grey and she is very fair, a sort of ice-fairy queen. She was wearing a charming white coat and blouse, yellow beads and a homespun white skirt with blue and yellow striped pattern.

A Visit to May Morris in London: Excerpts from John Quinn's Diary of 1911

Took the big rouring car at 2 o'c{lock] and drove to the Tate Gallery - a modern
building but looks 200 years old....

The pictures by Millais were very bad -candy face, cheap confectionary,sentimental
to the last degree. Watts grandiose but not satisfying technically except in his portraits - which were very fine. MM. pointed out quietly the portrait of her mother by D.G.R. - a magnificent thing. The hands are especially fine. The face I thought a little too pretty but the colour was splendid, and the whole picture a splendidly rich picture of a beautiful woman. MM. now has the bracelet that Mrs. M. wore when she posed for the picture. It is dated 1868 but MM. said they got it in 1871.

A Visit to May Morris in London: Excerpts from John Quinn's Diary of 1911

Not sure which picture of Jane they are referring too ??

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jane Morris - Paintings


Paintings of Jane Morris by Dante Gabriel Rossetti:

The Blue Silk Dress, 1868 .
Persephone or Proserpine, 1874 .
Astarte Syriaca, 1875–79. City Art Gallery, Manchester.
Beatrice, a Portrait of Jane Morris, 1879. Oil on canvas 13½ × 11 inches.
The Day Dream, 1880. Oil on canvas. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
La Donna della Fiamma, 1877. Coloured chalks. Manchester Art Gallery.
La Donna della Finestra, 1879. Oil on canvas. Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.
La Donna Della Finestra, 1881 (unfinished).
Jane Morris, c. 1860. Pencil.
Jane Morris, 1865.
Mariana, 1870. Aberdeen Art Gallery.
Pandora, 1869.
Pandora, 1871.
La Pia de' Tolomei, 1866-1870. Oil on canvas. Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas.
Portrait of Mrs William Morris.
Portrait of Jane Morris, 1858. Pen.
Proserpine, 1873–1877. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London.
Reverie, 1868. Chalk on paper. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.
The Roseleaf, 1865. Pencil.
Study of Guinevere for "Sir Lancelot in the Queen's Chamber", 1857.

Photographs of Jane Burden by Rossetti are available at the V&A.

By William Morris:

Queen Guinevere (also called La Belle Iseult), 1858 . Oil.

By Edward Burne-Jones:

Numerous stained-glass windows, including at Christ Church, Oxford.

By Evelyn De Morgan:

Portrait of Jane Morris, 1904.

Possibly based on Jane Burden (Morris) / "Venus Verticordia" — oil — 1863–8. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Memories of May Morris: 1923-1938 by Una Fielding

Memories of May Morris:
by Una Fielding

AT Kelmscott Manor a green door in a high stone wall leads from the farm road outside right into the garden. On entering one steps on to a flower-bordered path which takes one to the
front door and so into th e house. It was on this path that May Morris greeted me when I first entered the garden one afternoon just before Easter in 1924.

We had met once before in London on the steps of the British Museum; she had asked me then to carry one red flower in my hand so that she would know me, and said that she would do the same. Her letter making this arrangement was waiting for me at my bank when I arrived in London from Australia in September 1923. It was an exciting day; there was only just
time to send a reply saying that I would be at the British Museum at noon the next day - and that day, she told me, would be her last day in London for some time as she would be leaving
8 Hammersmith Terrace finally the following morning, and would live at Kelmscott all the year through.

We met easily: I would have found her without the red flower, for I remember thinking how very like she was to the Watts portrait of her father. She took me into the Museum for
a first peep, and then we went off to Soho for lunch and a long talk.

I remember that at that meal she introduced me to zabaglione: later I came to know that it was one of her amusements to introduce her friends to new foods and see how they
liked them. As our likes in these things turned out to be similar I came later on to have my turn of first move in this game.

She enjoyed cooking too, and it was during that first of many Easter holidays at Kelmscott that she taught me to make zabaglione and pasta after the manner of the good Italian

It was a great thrill that first holiday at the Manor. There were lovely sunny days in the garden where primroses and polyanthus of many colours were in full flower in the borders.

In those days she did a great deal of gardening herself and I remember talking to her while she clipped the yew-dragon which she told me her father had himself cut in the hedge. And
I remember that she planted two fig trees by the wall in the northeast corner of the garden. They did well, and in later years it became a regular custom for me to go down for a long
week-end in October, before the term's work in London held me too closely, to see the last of the flowers and help eat the last of the figs. We used to savour them in comparison with the
best figs we knew, hers Italian, mine Australian. It was during that Easter holiday in 1924 that May took me for a walk by the river that was never to be forgotten. We followed the left bank of the Thames down stream until were opposite Eaton Hastings and then turned north and soon
came upon a great patch of fritillaries. She knew they would be there: it was my first sight of these things, a complete surprise and a joy that has never departed. That walk became an annual affair, and when Easter was early and the fritillaries were not yet out when my holiday came to an end, she used to send or bring a bunch to me in London. A few years ago she found a
fritillary in Raffam, the river field at the back of the house, and wrote with great pleasure to tell me about it and of her hope that next year there would be many more. But we could never
find that fritillary again.

She loved the garden at Kelmscott, not only the look but the smell of things therein, and when sending off flowers to friends almost always put in a little posy of resinous and aromatic plants
like rosemary and cystus.

She had a great affection for the elm trees around the house and used to enjoy their fine patterns against the winter sky with the rooks' nests making nodal points in the tracery.
May taught me how to do cross-stitch and it was great fun making patterns and springing them on one another. In winter we often worked by the fire in the tapestry room and in summer in the green room by the window looking out on the mulberry tree and the little box-bordered flower beds.

She was always very kind to my efforts and helped me to realise the design I had in mind and never demolished my attempt to replace it by a better one of her own.

She delighted in children's toys and often came back from Oxford or Lechlade with a strange collection of oddments.

When these had been tried out and admired they went into the toy-box ready for the Christmas party at the village school or filled in the odd corners of the boxes of books and clothes that
were sent off to Iceland or the Hebrides.

All May's days at Kelmscott were busy days though outside happenings were few. She got up about 8 and breakfasted with Miss Lobb. In warm weather all meals, even breakfast, were
served under the verandah in the kitchen courtyard. Visitors always had breakfast in bed, with permission to smoke. About 9.30 she made a round of the garden for flowers then went on
into the kitchen garden to select the vegetables for the day.

Then came work - writing or sewing till lunch time. The two girls from the village who came each day to do the house work had lunch with us except on the rare occasions when there were
visitors for this meal. After lunch there was coffee and halva and Russian cigarettes and talk. Then followed an afternoon session of writing or designing for some serious job of needlework.
In the afternoons, especially in holiday time, people often came to see the house and May usually liked to take them round herself, but during the last two years of her life she was often
too tired to do this.

Sometimes big parties came and then Miss Lobb and Miss Whitaker and myself, if we were there, all helped, including the two village girls. The girls who stayed for long periods and
most of them did - came to know the house and its contents very well and became discriminating in their appreciation of colour and design in household objects, and several of them in
recent years have become expert needlewomen.

May Morris could not be happy for very long without some manual occupation. After the evening meal she did 'play' work, usually knitting, or 'play' reading, often detective stories, those
of Dorothy Sayers in particular. Sometimes we read aloud to one another.

We went to our rooms about half past nine, but May always read till very late, usually some book of travel or archaeology to begin with, Aurel Stein or Gordon Childe, then a novel as a night-cap in the small hours.

It was not only at Kelmscott that we met. In my memories of the nineteen twenties when I was a junior demonstrator and festivities were not frequent, there are some red-letter days.

These were the days when she came up to London for some meeting - the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, The Women's Guild of Arts, The Council of the Tate Gallery
or the Kelmscott Fellowship - and business over, had invited me to dine in some interesting restaurant and go to a show.

In the matter of 'shows' her likes and dislikes were vigorous especially the dislikes. But I remember that she greatly enjoyed 'Bitter Sweet' and 'Grand Hotel'. The background for each of us was very different: her daily work interested me but mne did not interest her. It was only
later - after Jenny died - that she ever spoke of illness or death and wished to know what was in my mind about these things, so much woven into my life. But she allowed me to share in
her own richly coloured and complicated background. The common interest of pattern-making made a channel through which there flowed from her shy, aloof, yet very kindly spirit,
some of that wealth of experience in life which she had garnered but found difficult to communicate. And so my life was greatly enriched, and there will always be a vitalizing stream flowing from that past to this present.

These notes were prepared for the meeting of the Women's
Guild of Arts held at 6 Queen Square, London in March 1940
as a memorial to May Morris. I was unable to be present at this
meeting owing to examining duties in Sheffield where I was
stationed during -the first year of World War 2. So this account
was never used.

Visit to May Morris

Some fascinating details from
A visit to May Morris
Margaret Horton

"I now feel quite at home as, pleasantly talking, she leads me upstairs,
downstairs, through the simple, carefully tended rooms. There is a sense
of space and peace, few but choice furnishings, a carved chest, a
rush-seated chair from Morris and Co., a Persian catpet. There are
strange, evocative objects, bringing one up sharply, heard of but hardly
believed, like things from Tutankhamen's tomb: Morris's Elizabethan
four-poster, with its embroidered legend (forty weeks to embroider)
'The wind's on the wold - And the night is a-cold - And Thames runs
chill .. .' (and cold it must have been in that 'passage room', 'covers and
hangings much needed .. .'). In the Tapestry Room so much associated
with Rossetti, the tall Samson figures, 'the indigo blues, the greys and
warm yellow browns', more faded and ancient than ever;' in the garden
room, a round table of English oak, typical Morris and Co., simple,
solid, almost immovable. In this room there is a hand loom with a
tapestry just begun. May Morris gets up early to work, as her father did.

The hand-dyed, hand-spun wools are bright reds, blues, greens,
yellows; flowers are growing in ever-fresh invention out of rhe grass,
into the air, a beginning as vital as spring. This I like best of all. The
house with its treasures and memories is being lovingly preserved but
better still the work and tradition is seen in action. In this room, Miss
Morris takes down from the wall two pastel drawings of herself and her
sister. 'These are by Rossetti.' I feel her pride. In spite of everything that
happened it is clear that as a child she loved Rossetti."

Jane's view on Kelmscott surroundings


Whilst Rossetti was living there with Jane, she wrote to her friend Philip Webb -

"The country I find is not so beautiful after one gets away from the river,
thought it is all delightful and home-like to me, and I love it, still I can well
understand others not being much impressed with it, who are not used
to it; every field is lovely by itself, and every house, but somehow when
one looks far out there is a sameness, a bareness of tree, which makes one
begin to want more, but of course I am only speaking of the few miles in
the immediate vicinity."

Water-Willow picture by Rossetti

The young May Morris did not find the landscape factual enough. In her
Introduction to Vol. IV of The Collected Works she says of the painting:

"The Water-Willow picture by Rossetti is a portrait of my mother. It is
not so happy a likeness as some of his other studies, the face being rather
pinched and the nose too long. Mr Rossetti brought into the background
of the picture Kelmscott Manor, where he was living at the time of painting it, the little old church with its elegant open belfry, and our boat-house with the Wshing-punt moored below … We girls were fond of the picture when it was Wnished, but it bothered me to have house and church and boat-house all brought together, when they were in diVerent directions. I confided to my mother my doubts as to the morality of this, and demanded an explanation. But the child’s ‘That isn’t how things really are!’ can’t be met by explanation."

The original is now in the Delaware Art Museum at Wilmington, but a copy made by Fairfax Murray in 1890 may be seen at Kelmscott Manor.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Evening with Dr Jan Marsh and Frank C. Sharp, editors of ‘The Collected Letters of Jane Morris’

Thursday 1st November - An Evening with Dr Jan Marsh and Frank C. Sharp, editors of ‘The Collected Letters of Jane Morris’, 7:00pm

Dr Jan Marsh and Frank C. Sharp will be joining us at the De Morgan Centre to discuss their new book. The edited volume contains over 500 letters of Jane Morris, wife of William Morris and a renowned Victorian artists’ model. The letters give an insight into Jane’s personality, and many of them are being published for the first time.

Jan Marsh is a researcher and author specialising in artists and writers. She has researched and written extensively on the Pre-Raphaelite circle and Victorian women artists, and is currently developing the late-Victorian catalogue at the National Portrait Gallery. Frank C. Sharp has written extensively on William Morris for the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies and the William Morris Society Journal in America.

Join us for this fascinating talk and learn about the enigmatic woman who was a model for several of Evelyn De Morgan’s paintings.

Spaces are limited, so book now to reserve your place! Tickets are £12.00 each. This includes entry to the talk and a free glass of sparkling wine.

Thanks Kimberley for noticing this.

Monday, September 3, 2012