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A must-have for William Morris fans
on September 9, 2002
Elizabeth Wilhide's superb "William Morris: Decor and Design" will be a real treat for William Morris fans. Wilhide combines dozens of sumptuous color photographs of Morris interiors with an overview of his life, his influences, and his artistic goals. I learned a number of interesting things about his personal background, such as:
- His beautiful wife Jane had a long affair with fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti;
- In addition to his design work, he was such a respected poet that he was offered the poet laureateship of England once Tennyson had died;
- Many of his designs are still in active production today, more than a century after his death.
Morris shunned the effect the Industrial Revolution had had on the arts in England (and elsewhere) and proposed that hand-crafted art, furniture, wallpaper, and so on be the goal of an artists' cooperative he helped to found. He felt that art should be in every home and that it should be useful, beautiful to look at, and durable. This success of the cooperative produced the uncomfortable situation, for Morris, of having art be so beautifully and painstakingly produced by hand that, in the end, only the wealthy could afford it.
The photographs of Morris interiors, wallpaper designs, furniture, and more, are absolutely sumptuous, and Wilhide's well-informed and well-written text helps to expand our understanding of the whole of Morris' life. Highly recommended!