Monday, July 29, 2013


"Why should there be any special record of me when I have never done any special work?"
Jane 1904

"I'm a remarkable woman - always was, though none of you seemed to think so."
May 1936

Cabinet Decorated with Scenes from ‘The Prioress’s Tale’

Cabinet Decorated with Scenes from ‘The Prioress’s Tale’, Philip Webb and Edward Burne-Jones. This cabinet, designed by Philip Webb and decorated by Burne-Jones, is made from oak and deal and painted in oil. Burne-Jones gave it to William Morris as a wedding present on his marriage to Jane Burden in 1859. This cabinet stood in the Morris' bedroom at Red House

Panel by Edward Burne-Jones, originally placed in the front door of Red House, the painted glass surrounding it is by William Morris.

Kelmscott Tree

The pattern is "Kelmscott Tree" The bed pelmet, in this pattern, was designed by May Morris, and embroidered by Lily Yeats and Ellen Wright (1891-3). Lily Yeats worked for Morris & Co., under May Morris for six years, some of the most difficult years of her life. Her letters to her family mention May and her temper, the difficulty of working for her, frequently referring to her as a "gorgon".

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jenny Morris grave

I've been looking everywhere for a photo of this- at last

The sweet stone for Jane Alice (Jenny) Morris that was buried in the lawn near her parents under a weeping yew tree. With moss growing in the initials.

May Morris embroidered bag

Prosperine’ (1874)

Of the painting, the artist wrote:

She is represented in a gloomy corridor of her palace, with the fatal fruit in her hand. As she passes, a gleam strikes on the wall behind her from some inlet suddenly opened, and admitting for a moment the sight of the upper world; and she glances furtively towards it, immersed in thought. The incense-burner stands beside her as the attribute of a goddess. The ivy branch in the background may be taken as a symbol of clinging memory.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Honeysuckle embroidery

This hanging is a rare example of a collaboration between three members of the Morris family: William, who designed the honeysuckle pattern, and his wife Jane and daughter Jenny, who embroidered the fabric.

I Knew Jenny did some embroidery as therapy for her epileptic fits but never seen anything that survived before.

WM Gallery

May Morris. Battye embroidered tapestry (detail), 1900

The embroidered tapestry shown in this article is a segment of one produced by May Morris in 1900 and was commissioned by the Battye family, hence the name and coat of arms. It is a much more conventionally themed medieval piece, but is not a mere copy of William Morris. The composition, style, and tone seem to have a slightly lighter touch than we are used to with Morris tapestry and embroidery work. May seems to have ordered her design work to concentrate on the overall decorative effect rather than that of the exacting details of nature that was so much part of her father's style. This is particularly noticeable when looking at the leaves and fruit in the forefront of the composition and the movement of the trees, which almost seem to be walking, rather than swaying. Although the piece is superficially medieval in tone, it has none of the gravity of the Arts & Crafts movement of the 1880s and 1890s, but instead pays more attention to the playfulness of much of the decorative work that was to appear later in the twentieth century.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Garden of earthly delights

William Morris built his Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent, as a family home as well as a showcase for his ebullient decorations. It became an organic depiction of his philosophy of life, love and 'art for the people'. Fiona MacCarthy celebrates a radical Victorian

Fiona MacCarthy
The Guardian, Saturday 26 July 2003

the 1861 census which lists for the Red House:

William Morris, aged 27 - Artist Painter, BA, born Walthamstow.
Jane Morris, aged 21, born Oxford.
Algernon Swinburne, aged 24 - Student, Oxford, born London.
Thomas Reynolds, aged 25 - Groom to head of family, born Woodford.
Jane Chapman, aged 27 - Housemaid, born Faversham.
Charlotte Cooper, aged 28 - Cook (Domestic), born Somerset.
Elizabeth Reynolds, aged 31 - Nurse (Private), born Leyton.
Jane Alice Morris, aged 3 months, born Bexley.
Morris' daughter, although Christened Jane Alice, was known as Jenny.

Why did Morris leave the Red House ?

Whilst Morris enjoyed his house in Bexleyheath, `The Firm' was growing rapidly. The original members were Morris, Marshall and Faulkner, plus Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Webb. The workshops and offices were at 8 Red Lion Square and a circular describes the firm as `Fine Art Workmen in Painting, Carving and Furniture, and the metals'. Then, on 25 March 1862, a second daughter, May, was born and Morris became busier as more commissions were received, his first wallpaper being printed in 1864. Morris found the travelling from Upton to London expensive and a strain so plans were made to move the workshops to the Red House. However, finances dictated that it was not to be. Finally in November 1865, the Morris family moved to Queen Square. His dream of creating a medieval world was gone from him forever, he never again visited the Red House.

The Red House has been used as a residence ever since Morris left and still contains much of the original decoration. A few years ago a blue plaque was erected on the house to commemorate its association with William Morris.

The National Trust purchased the house in 2003, and pre-booked guided tours are available. Please contact the Red House booking line on: 020 8304 9878

May Morris

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Memory Palace of her own

A Memory Palace of her own
Coming soon
11 January to 9 March 2014

Open Wednesday - Sunday, 10am-5pm; free
Contemporary double of Jane Morris, Dutch artist Margje Bijl, shows a series of self-portraits, staged and photographed in William and Jane Morris's former homes. Referring back to Jane’s life story, Margje Bijl makes Jane’s environment her own.

An exhibition in the Discovery Lounge.

William Morris Gallery

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Proserpine is hung in Sotheby's

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Proserpine is hung in Sotheby's where it goes on sale in November. It's expected to raise £1.2-1.8 million. Photo: Tom Pilston for The Times.

Emery Walker

The house in which the William Morris Gallery is based

The house in which the William Morris Gallery is based, called Water House, dates from the 1740s and has a chestnut staircase at the back of the hall. The house is now a museum but there are some fireplaces. The restoration is sympathetic and to their credit the museum hasn’t completely ignored the house: in each room there is a small plaque dedicated to the architecture of the room.

William Morris lived in the house from 1848-1856.

Emery Walker lived here from 1903 to 1933

Emery Walker lived here from 1903 to 1933. His friend, William Morris, lived up the road in Kelmscott House (what is now home to the William Morris Society).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Looking from the North Hall into the Panelled Room in the north wing of Kelmscott Manor

Furniture came to Kelmscott after Rossetti's death 
in 1882 . (On 8th April 1882, Rossetti, then on 
his deathbed, asked Hall Cane to make certain 
that Jane ‘had anything of his that she cared for.’
10 Objects now at Kelmscott can be identified in
watercolours of Rossetti’s rooms at Cheyne Walk
painted by Henry Treffry Dunn in 1882. They
show, for example, the Chinese red lacquer chairs
now in the North Hall, a corner cupboard now in
the Panelled Room, mirrors similar to the convex
mirror on the stairs, and brass chargers similar to
those now in the Green Room).

William Morris Textiles

Textiles of the Arts & Crafts Movement

Kelmscott Manor cottages

Commissioned in 1914 by May Morris as a 
memorial to her parents and built by Ernest 
Gimson as an L-shaped semi-detached pair.
Stone, of rubble with ashlar dressings and
stone slates. The stack bears a commemorative

These Gimson cottages are most important
examples of the Arts and Crafts vernacular revival
of which Gimson was one of the most significant

Both sets of cottages together with the Morris
Memorial Hall represent the Morris family’s determination to
provide a permanent memorial to William Morris.
May’s editing of the first edition of her father’s
collected works and the eventual gift of the estate
and the Manor together with her establishment of
the William and Jane Morris fund for the repair
of churches under the aegis of the Society of
Antiquaries completed this task.

In the vicinity of the cottages are two small stone
barns (one used as a garage) and a converted
railway carriage.

Blue serge ‘Daisy’ hanging by Jane Morris in the Garden Hall at Kelmscott