Monday, July 22, 2013

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.

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