29 April 2008

A Chance to See Some Rarely-Seen Pre-Raphaelite Art in London

For one week, from 23 May to 1 June, there is an unusual exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art in London. The 53 works on view at Fulham Palace are drawn from the Cecil French Bequest, a group of paintings and drawings given to the borough of Fulham in 1953. A few of the paintings are usually on display at Leighton House, but this is an opportunity to see the whole collection, including  no fewer than  26 paintings and drawings by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (who lived in Fulham) and representative paintings by such late nineteenth and early twentieth century British artists as Lord Leighton, Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, and George Frederick Watts. Two aspects of this exhibition strike us as odd. First, the admission proceeds benefit the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust–-a charity that seeks to "raise public awareness about the nature, symptoms and dangers of depression." A worthwhile cause, but is Pre-Raphaelite art the right art to promote it? Consider the subjects of some of the paintings on display--The Widow's Prayer (Leighton), The Wheel of Fortune (Burne-Jones, see image at left), Mariana in the South (Waterhouse). Beautiful images, but not always cheerful, to say the least. More surprisingly, the exhibition is on for far too short a period. The expense alone of moving the works to Fulham Palace would seem to justify a showing of some length--a month at least. Why not extend the exhibition into in June, when London is the center of the international art world, with major museum shows, antiques fairs, and auctions? Still, we should be grateful for even a brief chance to see such rarely available--and wonderful-- art.

27 April 2008

Burne-Jones Research Site

Birmingham Museums and Arts Gallery has the largest and most representative collection of works by the major nineteenth-century artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), who was born and grew up in Birmingham. The collection is in every sense an international public resource with over 1200 works, 1138 of which are works on paper and related material. Its unique range and depth has provided the theme and impetus for the Burne-Jones Research Site. This demonstration project is the result of a three-year research project to catalogue the complete Burne-Jones collection of drawings, watercolours, prints, sketchbooks, paintings designs, applied art and archive at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, led by Elisa Korb, a postgraduate doctoral student at the University of Birmingham. It sets out to expose and access this unique art collection to a world-wide audience. Nearly a third of the works have been photographed to date and the project led to the recent exhibition (and publicaiton), Hidden Burne-Jnes. The aim is to complete the digitisation of this collection in 2009, as part of the creation of a Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource Site.

26 April 2008

We are Not Alone: William Morris in the Blogosphere

Since inaugurating News from Anywhere we wondered what other blogs there might be which touch on William Morris, the Pre-Raphaleites, and the Arts and Crafts movement. A quick search in Google Blogs resulted in a plethora of references but only a relative handful of blogs primarily devoted to these subjects.
If you know of other blogs worth noting, please let us know.

25 April 2008

William Morris Lantern Slides Digitized

The University of London Computing Center is working with the William Morris Society to digigitize their unique collection of lantern slides. According to a post on the ULCC's da blog, "Digitising the slides will finally help to open up their access to a wider audience, who may then be able to help provide important information about the provenance and content of individual slides. It's suspected that one of the images may even be a unique portrait of William Morris's daughter, May Morris, and that lantern slide images of . . . Kelmscott House . . . may be the only surviving photographic depiction of the residence. . . . The slides were originally kept in a wooden box, seemingly adapted from cheddar cheese packaging (i.e. from the sizes of the labelling fitting the box as it stands, it seems that these were the original "Maypole" cheddar box dimensions); an artifact in itself that will be preserved as part of the William Morris Archive." In due course, a detailed case study of the project will appear on the ULCC website.

24 April 2008

A Morris Exhibition--and More--in New Zealand

From 14 March to 29 June 1008, Christchurch Art Gallery will be the host of Morris & Co. The World of William Morris, the largest exhibition of Morris & Co. furnishings ever seen in New Zealand. Morris & Co. features more than 100 pieces, including furniture, carpets, tapestries, wallpapers, embroideries and tiles. The exhibition, organized by the Art Gallery of South Australia and curated by Christopher Menz, is accompanied by lectures, performances, mechandise, and an auxillary display of local fine printing inspired by the Kelmscott Press.  William Morris and the Art of Everyday Life, a one-day conference convened by the Australasian Victorian Studies Association and the University of Otago, is scheduled for 10 May. This conference will explore the relationship between Morris and the art of everyday life--from the design of beautiful domestic interiors to his advocacy of a utopian socialism. Professor Florence Boos of the University of Iowa, distinguished Morris scholar and former president of the William Morris Society in the United States, is the keynote speaker.

From Puerto Rico to London

Two major Victorian paintings, Burne-Jones's The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon and Leighton's Flaming June (left), have traveled from Puerto Rico to London, where they will be on view at Tate Britain until February 2009.  "How did dozens of fabulous British works of art, most of them Pre-Raphaelites, end up in an obscure museum on a Caribbean island?" asks Alastair Sooke in an article published today in the Daily Telegraph. The answer is simple: they were acquired by "a far-sighted Puerto Rican industrialist, politician and philanthropist called Luis Antonio Ferré . . . In 1963, he bought Arthur in Avalon for 1,600 guineas at Christie's. In the same year, he also acquired Sir Frederic Leighton's voluptuous 1895 painting Flaming June." Ferré served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1969 to 1972. "He bought Arthur in Avalon and Flaming June as the crown jewels of a new museum in his home town of Ponce. The first stone of a stunning white modernist building, designed by celebrated American architect Edward Durell Stone, was placed in 1964, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce was officially inaugurated the following year. . . . Working on a limited budget, he targeted unfashionable pictures, and collected pieces representing every major school of Western art. 'The scholars and critics all called it kitsch,' he recalled in 1993, referring to his extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and drawings. 'Everyone thought I was crazy to buy them.'"

21 April 2008

"J. W. Waterhouse & Theatre"
Lecture by Peter Trippi

A reminder about "J. W. Waterhouse & Theatre," the lecture by Peter Trippi to take place on Tuesday, 22 April, at the Grolier Club in New York. This is the second in a series of events arranged by the William Morris Society and its partners, the American Friends of Chipping Campden, the Stockley Museum at Craftsman Farms, and the Victorian Society in America. Tickets are $12 for members of the William Morris Society, the Grolier Club, and the sponsoring organizations, $18 for others.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
6 p. m., reception to follow
Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street, New York
For more details and to purchase a ticket, click here

Welcome to the William Morris Society Blog

Welcome to the William Morris Society Blog. Here you will find announcements of William Morris Society activities, news of members, notices of exhibitions, publications, and events, and comments on items of interest concerning the life and works of William Morris, his friends, associates, and followers. Suggestions for discussion and entries and comments from members of the Morris Society and others on matters relating to Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the Morris Society are welcome. Please send communications to the society's webmaster, Mark Samuels Lasner.