Friday, August 31, 2012

A New View of a Remarkable Woman: Jane Morris from Her Own Correspondence

William Morris’s wife Jane is famous for being the iconic model of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, dismissed as a silent and discontented invalid.

Reading from their new book The Collected Letters of Jane Morris, Jan Marsh and Frank Sharp reveal a politically engaged, independent thinker who played a key role in the Morris family and business.

Organised by the Friends of the William Morris Gallery.

May Morris & the Women's Guild of Arts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

‎'Pigeon', An embroidered Portiere

The portiere designed by J.H. Dearle, the motto probably designed by May Morris, manufactured by Morris & Co, circa 1890
Silk on linen, the mushroom ground decorated with a pair of pigeons perched on scrolling foliage, with a fruit laden tree and two flowering shrubs, the background with polychrome flowers and foliage, the upper border decorated with a furled banner bearing the inscription: "All wrought by the worm in the peasant - Carle's cot. On the mulberry leafage when the summer was hot.", with seven suspension loops
9ft.11in. by 5ft.2½in. (297cm. by 158.8cm.)

Though the design of this portiere is recorded as that of Henry Dearle, the additional motto is attributed to the hand of William Morris' daughter, May, who managed the embroidery section of the company from 1885-1896 and whose known contemporary designs closely match the style of lettering seen here. The very high quality of the stitching and colouring indicates that the piece was almost certainly executed in the embroidery workshops of Morris & Co. as opposed to having been completed by the company's clients, as was sometimes the case.

We are grateful to Peter Cormack of the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

May Morris and John Quinn's visit to the Tate

"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."

Sunday 3 September 1911

Not sure what portrait of Jane this is?
I thought at first this was Prosperine but no bracelet and it wasn't given to the Tate till 1940.

May Morris and John Quinn

Wikipedia oddly doesn't mention May:

John Quinn met May Morris in 1909, and a romantic relationship between them
began almost immediately. However, by ·1911 - when Quinn took a long trip to
Europe with Augustus John to visit friends, attend to some legal business, and buy
art- the romance had lost its lustre for him. May remained very much in love though,
and tried to continue the affair, not completely giving up on Quinn until 1917.

and there is a book of correspondence

On Poetry, Painting, and Politics: The Letters of May Morris and John Quinn, ed.
Janis Londraville

John Quinn (1870–1924) was a second generation Irish-American corporate lawyer in New York, who for a time was an important patron of major figures of post-impressionism and literary modernism, and collector in particular of original manuscripts.

He was a supporter of the Irish nationalist cause and associated with figures such as John Devoy and Roger Casement, though he worked for British Intelligence services before, during and after World War I. In this role he acted as case officer for, among others, Aleister Crowley who was an agent provocateur posing as an Irish nationalist in order to infiltrate anti-British groups of Irish and Germans in the United States.

He was good friends with Maud Gonne, the muse of W B Yeats and a fascinating woman.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Battye Embroidered Wall Hanging (c.1900)

Battye Embroidered Wall Hanging (c.1900)
Battye, May Morris (1862 - 1938)

(M Audrey Battye)
Made about 1900

silk on hessian canvas

Embroidery on William Morris's Bed at Kelmscott Manor

In William Morris's room at Kelmscott Manor, the early-seventeenth century carved oak bed has an embroidered valance and bed-hangings that were designed in 1891 by May Morris, his daughter, and worked by May with the help of Lily Yeats and Ellen Wright (two Morris & Co. embroiderers). The poem "For the Bed at Kelmscott" was written by William
Morris for the project. May Morris also designed the bedcover, which was embroidered by Jane Morris, William Morris's wife. Further information can be found in a chapter on 'May Morris, embroidery and Kelmscott' by Linda Parry, from the book: William Morris, Art and Kelmscott, edited by Linda Parry, Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press and The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1996.

'For the Bed at Kelmscott', by William Morris

The wind's on the wold
And the night is a-cold,
And Thames runs chill
Twixt mead and hill,
But kind and dear
Is the old house here,
And my heart is warm
Midst winter's harm.
Rest then and rest,
And think of the best
Twixt summer and spring
When all birds sing
In the town of the tree,
As ye lie in me
And scarce dare move
Lest earth and its love
Should fade away
Ere the full of the day.

I am old and have seen
Many things that have been,
Both grief and peace,
And wane and increase.
No tale I tell
Of ill or well,
But this I say,
Night treadeth on day,
And for worst and best
Right good is rest.

A pin designed by May about 1903

May began to design jewellery around the turn of the 20th century. She was probably inspired by the Birmingham jewellers Arthur and Georgie Gaskin, who were old family friends. May used colourful stones, often cabochon-cut (dome-shaped), and drew upon the forms and decoration of European folk jewellery. Many Arts and Crafts jewellers worked in this style.

This was given to the V&A by her friend Miss Vivian Lobb

May Morris - Maids of Honour (c.1900)

May Morris (c.1887) Hollyer

May Morris (c.1886)

May Morris (c.1886)

very fancy cross

May Morris textile

Left: Nick Cave, Tree Soundsuit, 2011, Mixed Media. Photographer: James Printz, Chicago. Right: May Morris, Bed Hangings, 1917, or earlier. Embroidered wool on linen. Each panel:76 ¾ x 27 inches. Gift of George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth.

Cranbrook Art Museum

Mary (May) Morris

May Morris was born on 25 March 1862 at Red House, Bexleyheath. The daughter of William Morris, she studied textile arts at the South Kensington School of Design from 1880-1883 and was Director of the embroidery department at Morris & Co. from 1885 until about 1896. May Morris was active in the Royal School of Art Needlework (now the Royal School of Needlework) and an influential embroiderer and jewellery designer. She founded the Women's Guild of Arts in 1907 and remained its president until 1935. She died in 1938. Her bequest to the Victoria and Albert Museum included ceramics by William de Morgan, table glass by Philip Webb and embroideries, textiles, designs and drawings by William Morris, as well as jewellery belonging to her mother Jane Morris (née Burden). Several works by May Morris are displayed in the V&A’s galleries.

Parry, Linda. Textiles of the arts and crafts movement. London: Thames and Hudson, 1988

Jane Morris holding May Morris (c.1865)

May Morris as a child

Jane and May Morris