24th March 2017
There’s few artists that have had the same impact of William Morris in terms of his contribution to British arts and design. His legacy has lasted to influence the arts industry today- we can see his designs in brands from Marc Jacobs to Topshop. Whilst we blog about Morris and his achievements year round, today more than any other day it’s important to take the time to remember the man behind his legacy.
Morris was born in Walthamstow on March 24th, 1834. He became a textile designer and artist, a writer, poet and a socialist who was both heavily involved and influential in the English Arts and Crafts movement and with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Originally, after being educated at Oxford, he trained as an architect, however he was highly interested in the arts, and after being influenced by some of the big names in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood including Rossetti he became more and more involved in the arts. Together with these friends, he created art that has stood the test of time, today many of the stain glass windows in England’s churches were designed by Morris & Co. St James’ Palace in London being one of their first commissions; if you research into what they created together, their work is vast and rather beautiful!
He married Jane Burden in 1859, who modelled in many of the Pre-Raphaelites art work, she was an unconventional beauty, but became one of their favourite models. Philip Webb, Morris’ friend, was commissioned to build them a house on some land he had bought in Kent, which at that time was a rural area (today, Bexleyheath is a suburb of London.) If you’ve ever visited Red House, you’ll know Webb did a great job of creating the home Morris envisioned; a modern home which would be ‘medieval in spirit.’ He furnished the house himself, a visit will show you the Morris’ wallpaper and designs throughout the home. He created these with the help of a few friends, since he was particular in what he wanted and felt he couldn’t find that anywhere, from the success of this, a business was born; Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. This company produced a range of domestic furniture and wallpaper (again, because Morris couldn’t find any he liked enough to use in his home.)
Happy Birthday William Morris! What is your favourite design of his? Ours (right now!) is his Brother Rabbit design!
Make sure you’ve read our past blogs for a more detailed insight into Morris- with such a wide range of interests and talents there’s lots for us to cover!