By: Rowan Bain
A passionate advocate of craftsmanship over mass-production, William Morris (1834– 1896) designed a huge variety of objects, but it is his highly original carpet, fabric and wallpaper patterns that have continued to capture the imagination and exert their influence on the decorative arts. Around 600 such designs are attributed to Morris, of which the vast majority are based on natural forms, including trees, plants and flowers. This beautifully designed, accessibly priced gift book offers a wealth of designs by Morris in which flowers are the principal motif, bringing together not only completed patterns but also working drawings in pen and watercolour, and examples of his pearwood, floral-pattern printing blocks. It also explores examples of the sources that inspired Morris’s flower-based designs: his own gardens at the Red House in Kent, Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire and elsewhere; 16th- and 17th-century herbals; illuminated medieval manuscripts; late medieval and Renaissance tapestries; and a range of decorated objects, particularly from the Islamic world, that Morris studied at the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). Authored by Rowan Bain, curator at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, north London, and lavishly illustrated with almost 100 colour illustrations, this exquisite book will both inform and delight.