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The Beauty of Life: William Morris and the Art of Design Paperback – November 24, 2003


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"Beauty, which is what is meant by art ... is no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life."

About the Author

Diane Waggoner is associate curator in the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (November 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500284342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500284346
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,145,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
Painstakingly compiled and expertly edited by Diane Waggoner (Andrew W. Mellon foundation Curatorial Fellow in the Art Collections at The Huntington), The Beauty Of Life: William Morris & The Art Of Design is specifically devoted to the decorative artwork of William Morris, an influential leader of the British Arts and Crafts movement. Contemplative and informative essays by Pat Kirkham, Gillian Naylor, and Edward R. Bosley are added to those of Diane Waggoner and concern William Morris' diverse works of art (including his stained glass and interior decoration designs). These essays are enhanced with eye-catching, full color photographs. A joy to simply page through and savor, and presented with a deep respect for artistic traditions stretching back to medieval times and beyond, The Beauty Of Life is a superbly presented and heartily endorsed addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library Art History collections.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was scarcely aware of William Morris until recently. This book has been a valuable entree to his life and work for me. Diane Waggoner edited this volume, which features chapters written by Pat Kirkham, Waggoner, Gilliam Naylor, and Edward Bosley.

What makes this book intriguing to me is the various facets of Morris' life that are covered--from "The Firm" (Morris & Company) to stained glass to books to decoration of houses to his publishing company to his politics. I am especially intrigued by his interest in atypical political activists such as Peter Kropotkin.

He counted among his friends some of the leading Pre-Raphaelites and other ambitious young men of the era, including Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb, and so on. In the Introduction, Waggoner notes the value of the collection of Morris' works at the Huntington Museum. Kirkham's chapter, "William Morris: A Life in Design" begins with an apposite quotation from Morris (Page 20): "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Kirkham notes the breath of his work (Page 21): "One of the most famous figures of his day, [Morris[ was a poet, a novelist, translator, social activist, environmentalist, entrepreneur and designer of a wide range of objects, including embroidery, tapestry, furniture, carpets, stained glass, tiles, textiles, wallpaper, books and type."

Indeed, one of the glories of this book is the rich set of examples of his art and craft. Included are photos of his stained glass, his embroidery, his books, and so on. The luscious visual portrayal of his artifacts makes this a fine introduction to his work. one doesn't need to visualize his works in one's mind--they are there to see and appreciate and savor.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Aneesah Mcnamee on May 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautiful presentation of the work of William Morris - genius designer and illustrator of the Arts and Crafts movement. Beautiful illustrations and reproductions of his work - a great book for any student and artist as well as a graphic designer that has an appreciation for history and beauty.
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By Angela D. Clouse on August 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Even though I'm no longer in school I still go back and read this book!
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