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The Vision of William Morris The history of a craftsman


index William Morris and the diligent study of Nature………..2

Medieval crafts guilds and Patterns from nature ………3 The Kelmscott press and Arts and Crafts M……………….4 The Decline of Arts and Crafts……………………………………5

Karla Castañeda Lafarga Group-7 4th semester


William Morris and the diligent study of Nature ď‚›

William Morris was a leading member of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He is best known for his pattern designs, particularly on fabrics and wallpapers. His vision in linking art to industry by applying the values of fine art to the production of commercial design was a key stage in the evolution of design as we know it today. William Morris was an artist, designer, printer, typographer, bookbinder, craftsman, poet, writer and champion of socialist ideals. Morris felt that the 'diligent study of Nature' was important, as nature was the perfect example of God's design. He saw this as the spiritual antidote to the decline in social, moral and artistic standards during the Industrial Revolution.

Morris' solution was for a return to the values of the Gothic art of the middle Ages, where artists and craftsmen had worked together with a common purpose: to glorify God through the practice of their skills.

WILLIAM MORRIS 'Windrush', 1881-83.


Medieval crafts guilds and Patterns from nature ď‚›

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The medieval crafts guilds were groups of artists, architects, and craftsmen who formed an alliance to maintain high standards of workmanship, regulate trade and competition, and protect the secrets of their crafts. The guilds were usually composed of smaller workshops of associated crafts from the same town who banded together into larger groups for their own protection and prosperity. They operated on a Master, Journeyman and Apprentice system where the master would take on apprentices to train them in the skills of his craft. The apprentices were 'bound' to work for free for that master for a period of around five to nine years.

In effect, Morris took the natural forms That he found outside in the woods and meadows and used them to decorate the inside of our homes.

'Trellis', 1862 (wallpaper design).

Morris was one of the great pattern designers. His classic designs are still commercially available as wallpapers and textiles. His patterns are inspired by his intimate knowledge of natural forms discovered through drawing and stylized through his detailed (John Ruskin y William Morris) knowledge of historical styles.

'Trellis', 1862.

'African Marigold', 1876.


The Kelmscott Press and Arts and Crafts Movement ď‚›

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The Burne-Jones and William Morris families photographed at the Grange by Frederick Hollyer. Edward Jones (Burne-Jones's father), Margaret Burne-Jones, Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Burne-Jones, Georgiana Burne-Jones, May Morris, William Morris, Jane Morris, and Jenny Morris .

In 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press, named after the village near Oxford where he had lived since 1871. The Kelmscott Press produced high quality hand-printed books to be seen and cherished as objects d'art. Morris designed and cut the typefaces, ornamental borders and title pages which were based on the style of medieval manuscripts, while the illustrations were created by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones. The books were printed on handmade paper, copied from 15th century Italian samples, and bound in vellum. The Kelmscott Press was never a financial success as their beautifully hand-crafted books were too expensive to produce at a profit. It was an enterprise that Morris ran simply for pleasure. Kelmscott only ran for seven years and closed in 1898, two years after the death of Morris.

'Typefaces', 1897 (printed page).

'The Nature of Gothic', 1892 One of the titles published by Kelmscott Press.


The Decline of Arts and Crafts ď‚›

Despite its high ideals, the Arts and Crafts Movement was essentially flawed. Their opposition to modern methods of production and the tendency to look back to the medieval world, rather than forward to a progressive era of complete mechanization, was what eventually sounded the death knell of the movement.

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Some designers, such as Christopher Dresser whose work still looks remarkably modern, started to reject the limitations of the Arts and Crafts ideals and positively embrace the techniques of industrial manufacturing. This was the start of a design evolution that would eventually culminate in the foundation of the Bauhaus School of Art and Design which became the prototype for art education in the 20th century.

However, the greatest legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement was their understanding of the relationship between design and our quality of life. This set the example for others who would later attempt to use the power of industrial mass production in the service of good design.

DR. CHRISTOPHER DRESSER (1834-1904) 'Teapot', 1879


The Vision of William Morris