To turn our chamber walls into the green woods of the leafy month of June, populous of bird and beast

From William Morris’ lecture The Lesser Arts of Life (online here – a seemingly odd inclusion in marxists.org). I’m trying to convince my wife to let me wallpaper my library in Morris’ Bird and Pomegranate print (at bottom) and have been looking at a lot of the Morris&Co productions the last few days.

Well, this is all I have to say about the poor remains of the art of tapestry-weaving: and yet what a noble art it was once! To turn our chamber walls into the green woods of the leafy month of June, populous of bird and beast; or a summer garden with man and maid playing round a fountain, or a solemn procession of the mythical warriors and heroes of old; that surely was worth the trouble of doing

For illustration of what he had in mind, here are a few of Morris’ works. A good summary of his overall textile production can be found here.

First, The Orchard tapestry depicting several fruit trees ready for harvest and figural representations of the seasons holding a poem of Morris’ composing. Courtesy of V&A (but never on display it seems).

An acanthus wall hanging, also from the V&A collection:

And Greenery, a work of Morris’ first apprentice, John Henry Dearle, now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

And here’s the pattern I want. It reminds me somehow of a frescoed room from the Villa of Livia – now in the Palazzo Massimo in Rome – that even in faded and broken form remains breathtaking in person (see below pattern, more pictures in link above).

2 thoughts on “To turn our chamber walls into the green woods of the leafy month of June, populous of bird and beast

  1. I should think the Morris Wall paper would be very expensive. It looks wonderful, yes, but….
    An article in the news this last week – a 15th tapestry has just undergone a clean and repair job. It tool four years!
    It’s about twenty feet square, but is part of what once was a much larger design.
    I am in awe of the people who designed and of the huge labour of hand-sewing, the people involved in that for years on end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t find it now – maybe it got copyright struck – but there was a very good documentary someone had uploaded to youtube a number of years ago about the Apocalypse Tapestry in Angers – both its original production and its ongoing restoration/upkeep. The development of tapestry workshops was probably the most fascinating part.

    Like

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