05 March 2012

“William Morris’ Earthly Paradise: Precursor to the Private Press Movement”

The exhibition, “William Morris’ Earthly Paradise: Precursor to the Private Press Movement,” will open at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Art History Gallery 8 March 2012.  This exhibition, curated by Leslie Harwood, a MA candidate at the University, will focus on William Morris’s and Edward Burne-Jones’s Earthly Paradise project in relation to the Kelmscott Press, founded nearly thirty years after the Earthly Paradise project was initiated, in order to prove that the failure of the earlier project to be the instigator in the founding of the Kelmscott Press.

This exhibition will feature several editions of Morris’s Earthly Paradise, the 1868

mass produced edition featuring only one of Burne-Jones’s woodcuts, the 1896 Kelmscott Press edition, and Arthur Richard Dufty’s 1974 reproduction of the “Cupid and Psyche” series, which was printed with Burne-Jones’s original wood blocks. Dufty’s reproduction offers his own interpretation of how Morris intended to design The Earthly Paradise. The exhibition will also feature several books printed at the Kelmscott Press such as William Morris’s News From Nowhere and Well at the World’s End.

Alongside Morris’ books from the Kelmscott Press, several private presses influenced by the press at Kelmscott will be featured, including the Vale Press, Essex House Press, and Golden Cockerel Press, all in London. There will also be two American private presses, the Philosophers Press and the Elston Press. The aims of the exhibition are to discuss Morris’s and Burne-Jones’s intentions, the reasons why they founded the Kelmscott Press, and how the aforementioned private presses continued the legacy of Morris’s ideals in presenting the book as a quality, aesthetically pleasing everyday object.

A catalogue for the exhibition written by Ms. Harwood is available for purchase; for details please contact leslie.harwood@gmail.com.

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