04 December 2009

William Morris Society Activities at the MLA Annual Convention
27–30 December in Philadelphia

This year the Modern Language Association's annual convention—a major happening in the wold of academic literary studies and college and university hiring—will take place 27–30 December in Philadelphia. As an official allied organization of the MLA, the William Morris Society has the privilege of sponsoring two sessions of scholarly papers at the convention. The topic of the first session is "Musical Pre-Raphaelitism: Defining the Area"; the second focuses on "William Morris's Later Friends and Associates." Attendance is restricted to those who register for the convention or who are members of the Society. Interested members of the public are, however, welcome to join us (space permitting) at two other activities, a special visit to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, a research and lending library located in a nineteenth-century building, and the Society's annual meeting/dinner which follows. Members and non-members must rsvp by 24 December to Mark Samuels Lasner, (302) 831-3250.

For more information click here.

02 December 2009

"Ernest Gimson and the Inspiration of William Morris" Lecutre in New York 10 December

"Ernest Gimson and the Inspiration of William Morris"
Mary Greensted

This talk will look at the links between William Morris and the Gimson family from the 1880s. The direct influence of Morris, father-figure of the Arts and Crafts movement and its impact on the ideas and work of Ernest Gimson, one of the most important British designers of the turn of the century, will be illustrated with examples of the latter's work in furniture, metalwork, embroideries, plasterwork and architecture.

Mary Greensted is a curator, lecturer, and writer, who was for many years responsible for Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum's nationally important Arts and Crafts movement collection. A trustee of the Court Barn Museum, Chipping Campden, and the chairperson of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen, she is the author of numerous books, including Craft and Design: Ernest Gimson and the Arts and Crafts Movement and The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds, along with three catalogues on Cheltenham's Arts and Crafts collections (as joint author/editor). Her most recent publication was An Anthology of the Arts and Crafts Movement, published by Lund Humphries in 2005. She is currently a recipient of a Leventis studentship for researching links between Greece and the Arts and Crafts movement at Birmingham University.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
6 p. m., reception to follow
The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY
Sponsored by the William Morris Society in the United States, the American Friends of Arts and Crafts in Chipping Campden, the Grolier Club, the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, and the Victorian Society in America.

Tickets: $12 reduced rate for members of the Society and the other sponsoring organizations; $18 for others.

For more details and to purchase a ticket, click here.

Contact: Mark Samuels Lasner, (302) 831-3250.

26 November 2009

Christmas Craft Fair, 12 and 13 December at Kelmscott House

Don’t miss the William Morris Society’s first Christmas Craft Fair in the newly refurbished Coach House at Kelmscott House Museum! Celebrate the festive season with a mince pie and glass of wine in the unique setting of the historic Coach House at William Morris's magical riverside home in Hammersmith as you browse for those extra special gifts designed and made by quality craftspeople. Come and see designer crafts people at work as well as a range of beautiful handcrafted gifts for sale including ceramics, jewellery, stone carving, fabric bags, scarves, Christmas tree angels, embroidered and woollen items, Christmas cards, small garden creations and soft furnishings at the home of the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Christmas Craft Fair
Saturday, 12 and Sunday, 13 December 2009
11 a. m. to 5.30 p.m.
The Coach House
Kelmscott House Museum
26 Upper Mall
London W6 9TA UK
020 8741 3735

21 November 2009

New Book The History of Kelmscott House by Helen Elletson published by the William Morris Society

The William Morris Society has just published The History of Kelmscott House by Helen Elletson. This new book by the cuator of the William Morris Society and Kelmscott House Museum, tells the story of the "most beautiful house in London" in Hammersmith which Morris bought in 1879. While living there he set up the Kelmscott Press, established the Hammersmith branch of the Socialist League (in the Coach House, where speakers included George Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats), and continued his innovations in design, printing and dyeing techniques. This is the first fully-illustrated book about this most magical of Morris’s homes. Helen Elletson’s carefully researched and absorbing text, complemented by beatiful images—photographs and original prints, most in color—faithfully conveys the atmosphere of Kelmscott House, which Morris and his family welcomed some of the most influential minds of the late-Victorian period. The book also examines the history and the occupants of the house before and after Morris.

An exceptional value at only £5, due to generous sponsorship and the wish of the William Morris Society to make it affordable, The History of Kelmscott House is a must-have book for anyone interested in Morris and his circle.

64 pp., 34 illus., most in color. November 2009

£5 per copy, plus £1 packing and postage (in the UK)
$15 per copy, plus $5 package and postage (in the US)
Enquire for shipping costs to rest of world

Order from:

William Morris Society
Kelmscott House
26 Upper Mall
London W6 9TA UK
020 8741 3735

Kelmscott Bookshop
32 West 25th St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 235-6810

30 October 2009

The Days of Creation Lecture 18 November at Harvard

On Wednesday, 18 November, Miriam Stewart, assistant curator, Department of Drawings, Harvard Art Museums, will speak on The Days of Creation - In-Sight: Looking Deeper and Differently at Harvard's Sackler Museum. When Henry James saw Edward Burne-Jones's watercolor series The Days of Creation exhibited in 1877, he noted the artist's "imagination, his fertility of invention, his exquisiteness of work, his remarkable gifts as a colourist." Photographic replicas (called platinotypes) of The Days of Creation were available starting in the 1870s. Oscar Wilde had a set of platinotypes in his rooms at Magdalen College, Oxford. This splendid series in the Harvard Art Museum's collection invites close examination of painting materials, iconography, collecting, and reproduction. Tickets $18 (members of Harvard Art Museum $12, students with valid ID $8). Space is limited, and registration is strongly encouraged.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
6.30 p. m.
Arthur M. Sackler Museum Lecture Hall
485 Broadway
Cambridge, MA
To register, call (617) 495-0534.

26 October 2009

The Kelmsoctt Chaucer in Miniature

The Kelmscott Chaucer, the masterpiece of William Morris's Kelmscott Press, published a few months before Morris's death in 1896, was described by its illustrator, Edward Burne-Jones, as a "pocket cathedral." How big a pocket might hold the original (a folio) is hard to imagine but we have received word that there is a version which will fit into a reticule—and leave room to spare. In a world where Morris products of all sorts abound, B. B. Miniatures, of South Africa, has produced one of the smallest--and oddest, an "open book" version of the Chaucer measuring ca. 1.5 in. wide and 1.25 in. wide. Described as being "bound" (quotation marks ours) in leather, the volume joins the maker's little library suitable for a dolls' house. Other titles available include the Gutenberg Bible, Mrs. Beeton, various medieval manuscripts, and albums kept by a naturalist and a stamp collector. The charm of the miniature Chaucer is slightly lessened when one learns that because of the reduction, the open pages can't be read. But then critics of the real Chaucer have, on occasion, said the same thing. For more information go the B. B. Miniatures web site.

(Thanks for Matthew Young for the photograph.)

Edward Burne-Jones: The Earthly Paradise at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart has on through 7 February 2010 an exhibition of Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), It's a major show, but not, as claimed, the first on this artist’s work ever to be presented in Germany. Some idea of the content and theme can be found in the web announcement:
Myths, legends and sagas come to life in his splendid narrative cycles which, as the focus of the show, will lure visitors into magical worlds. The tale of Sleeping Beauty, the saga of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the myth of the demigod Perseus who beheaded the horrible Gorgon Medusa and liberated Princess Andromeda from the clutches of a sea monster: it was not only in large-scale paintings and tapestries that Burne-Jones depicted these and other stories. Literary motifs of this kind also figure in his designs for stained-glass windows, ceramic tiles, furniture, book illustrations and other three-dimensional and textile works. Each of the new exhibition rooms on the ground floor of the Old Staatsgalerie will be devoted to a different sphere of his narrative universe.
As they note, "Burne-Jones shared his appreciation of the applied arts as an agent unifying art and life with William Morris, one of the fathers of modern design. Not only were the two men close friends throughout their lives; they also worked side by side at Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., founded in 1861." The title of the exhibition comes, of course, from Morris's epic poem, The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), from which Burne-Jones derived inspiration for his narrative cycles

The exhibition is "being realized under the sponsorship of the British ambassador to Germany, Sir Michael Arthur." It will be on view at the Kunstmuseum Bern from 19 March to 25 July 2010.

08 October 2009

Another 175th Anniversary—at William Morris House, Wimbledon

William Morris is unique among British historical figures in that there are no fewer than four buildings associated with him have been preserved and are open to the public: Water House, Walthamstow (now the William Morris Gallery), Red House, Bexleyheath (owned by the National Trust), Kelmscott House, Hammersmith (home of the William Morris Society), and Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire (Society of Antiquaries). We have just learned of a fifth, William Morris House, located in Wimbledon, South London, not far from where Morris and Co. operated its Merton Abbey works. The building is used for local community meetings and arts events.

William Morris House is presenting a public celebration of the 175th anniversary of the birth of William Morris, described as "Wimbledon's internationally renowned former employer, designer, and radical," on Saturday, 24 October. The event will feature a short llustrated talk by local Morris biographer Dave Saxby (Museum of London), the author of William Morris in Merton. Saxby will show previously unpublished pictures of the Morris & Co works at Merton Abbey. Visitors will also be able to see two original stained glass windows designed by Edward Burne Jones and produced by Morris at Merton Abbey. The windows were presented to William Morris House by a local family and were recently restored.
Saturday, 24 October
7.30 p. m.
Free admission (complimentary wine and pizza)

William Morris House
267 The Broadway
Wimbledon SW19 1SD UK
(opposite the Polka Theatre)

For more information contact:
Peter Walker
Chair of William Morris House
07715 749 373 mob
020 8542 8223 work

04 October 2009

Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago

Having seen a proof of the catalogue, I can't say enough good things about Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago, which opens on 7 November at the Art Institute of Chicago. The press release only tells half the story:
This is the first Arts and Crafts exhibition mounted at the Institute in more than 30 years, and it's worth the wait. You'd Apostles of Beauty presents designs by the movement's most notable practitioners, from William Morris and Charles Robert Ashbee to Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright. Highlighting a wide range of objects, including ceramics, furniture, metalwork, paintings, photographs, and textiles, the exhibition offers the chance for a large audience to see some of Chicago's spectacular holdings with works from the Art Institute, the Smart Museum, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Crab Tree Farm, and other private and public collections. The exhibition traces the history of the Arts and Crafts movement through its complex stylistic and philosophical influences. Galleries explore the movement's early roots in Britain and the impact of William Morris and his group on the next generation of architect-designers; its intersection with the phenomenon of Japanism in both British and American design; the development of American Arts and Crafts style and its popularization through specialized periodicals; the connections between the movement’s philosophies and pictorialism in photography; and Chicago's early acceptance of the British model and its later role in uniting hand and machine in the service of beauty
What they don't say is how wonderful the objects are. One would expect that Wright and Sullivan would be well represented (after all, this is Chicago) but the British work could make you think you are in the V. and A. In a sense, this exhibition builds on last year's show at Northwestern University (some of the lenders and items are repeats), but the curatorial thinking is less dogmatic and the concept more wide-ranging. Very much recommended; note that this is not a traveling exhibition—just one venue. if you ever needed an excuse to visit the United States "second city" this is it. For more information click the link above or go to the Art Institute of Chicago's web site,

Ezperiments in Colour: Exhibition at the William Morris Gallery

From 10 October through 24 January 2010, the William Morris Gallery, London has on a most interesting exhibition which explores the remarkable collaboration between William Morris and the Victorian textile entrepreneur, Thomas Wardle (1831–1909). Together they experimented with natural dyes and printing techniques and their interest in color led them to a joint fascination with the textiles of India. The exhibition explores the fruits of this partnership, a unique moment in British textile history. Experiments in Colour, drawn largely from the gallery's own collection and curated by Brenda King, forms part of a series of exhibitions celebrating Wardle’s centenary.

Society Web Site updated

The Society's web site, www.morrissociety.org, has been updated with updates to the events listings and other information. There are now details of William Morris Society activities through January 2010—and in a first, we've added a preview of events and activities to take place next year. If you know about a lecture, exhibition, or other meeting you believe of interest to members of the Society please let us know. Contact Mark Samuels Lasner.

27 September 2009

William Morris Society on Facebook!

The William Morris Society has joined the rest of the world and inaugurated a Facebook page. This means of communication will be updated frequently with news of Society events in the United States and in Britain. We aim to make the page a special resource for scholars by posting announcements of publications, conferences, and relevant fellowship and grant opportunities which often are hard to deal with on the William Morris Society web site. Finally, to keep the spirit of William Morris alive we'll be using the "discussion" function on Facebook to facilitate lively and academic conversation.

Become a fan by searching "William Morris Society" from your own Facebook page or by following this link.

Pre-Raphaelite Society Essay Prize

The Pre-Raphaelite Society invites anyone with an interest in nineteenth-
century art to submit a manuscript of not more than 2000 words for The John
Pickard Essay Prize. The topic may relate to any individual connected to the
Pre-Raphaelite circle. The winner will receive a £100 prize and publication in the Spring 2010 issue of the Society's Review. Essays by runners-up may also be published. The selection will be made by the committee of the Pre-Raphaelite Society. Entries are to are due 31 December 2009, and may be sent to Serena Trowbridge, serenatrowbridge@bcu.ac.uk.

23 August 2009

Morris in The Time Traveller's Wife

I didn't see the film, The Time Traveller's Wife, nor did I particularly want to. Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel is he kind of book which would only be ruined in by cinematic treatment. Leave it in my memory as a wonderful read, unsullied by a director's interpretation, actors' voices, and the simplification and manipulation which must come in an adaptation. Sorry . . . this is a William Morris blog, not an outlet for film critics. What's worth mentioning here is the Morris connection. It's small, but noteworthy. It consists of one bit of dialogue. Clare, the wife of the title, becomes reacquainted with Henry, the time traveller (they had met and fallen in love before) when she comes to the Newberry Librarary on a research trip. Claire, asks Henry, who is a rare book librarian, "Hi, I'm looking for a book on papermaking at the Kelmscott Press. . . ?" This line is not in the novel—in which Claire simply states:
I'm writing a paper for an art history class. My research topic is the Kelmscott Press Chaucer. I look up the book itself and fill in a call slip for it. But I also want to read about papermaking at Kelmscott. The catalogue is confusing. I go back to the desk to ask for help.
after stating that she's filled in a request slip for the Kelmscott Chaucer. The scene was filmed in Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law Library, which stood in for Chicago’s Newberry.

Audrey Niffenegger is not only a bestelling novelist but also a noted book artist and designer who has an admittted to a love of Aubrey Beardsley (and, presumably, William Morris). So we assume the passage is autobiographical.

04 August 2009

The Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource

It is almost inconceivable that one institution could have as many as 2,300 works by the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates, and perhaps even more unbelievable that all of them could be digitized and made available online. Yet it's true. All of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's massive collection—paintings and drawings major, minor, iconic, and forgotten—is now on the Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource. I can't say too many good things about this remarkable "resource." The images are superb (produced with Microsoft's Silverlight technology which captures minute detail, even when zoomed in at almost microscopic levels). Access is by a first-rate search mechanism simultaneously providing ease-of-use and an elaborate filtering mechanism, enabling both casual viewing and research by specialists. A search for Rossetti returns 385 items, for Morris over 600, and for Burne-Jones an astonishing 1,035. There are detailed notes and thematic introductions which use selected works to focus on gender and sexuality, history, particular figures, wood engraving, illustration, and other subjects. (You can also set up and publish your own personal collection of images and their is a built-in discussion area.) Rebecca West once wrote that Max Beerbohm's broadcasts alone justified the invention of radio; Birmingham's site perhaps does not by itself justify the existence of the internet but it does show what can be accomplished when talent, scholarship, good design—and money—are applied to art and culture. Visit and you may be stuck there for hours.

Save the Date! Useful and Beautiful Conference in Delaware, October 2010

Save the Date!
Useful and Beautiful:
The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites
7–9 October 2010
Newark and Wilmington, DE

A conference and related exhibitions, 7-9 October 2010, at the University of Delaware (Newark, DE) and at the Delaware Art Museum and the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate (Wilmington, DE). Organized with the assistance of the William Morris Society, Useful and Beautiful will highlight the strengths of the University of Delaware’s rare books, manuscripts, and art collections; Winterthur’s important holdings in American decorative arts; and the Delaware Art Museum’s superlative Pre-Raphaelite collection (the largest outside Britain). This conference will focus on the multitude of transatlantic exchanges that involved Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, and the arts and crafts and aesthetic movements of the late nineteenh century. We will invite papers that explore relationships and influences—whether personal, intellectual, political, or aesthetic—that connect William Morris, his friends, associates, and followers in Britain and Europe with their contemporaries and successors in the Americas. The “arts” will include not merely those at which Morris himself excelled—i.e., literature, design, and printing—but also painting, illustration, architecture, performance, and anything related to print culture in general. A formal call for papers and other details will follow in Fall 2009.

For more information, please contact Mark Samuels Lasner, marksl@udel.edu, (302) 831-3250.

William Morris 175 Anniversary Celebrations

To mark the 175th anniversary of William Morris, the William Morris Society is holding William Morris 175 Anniversary Celebrations on the weekend of 4–6 September at Kelmscott House in London. Combining elements of a scholarly conference, a museum visit, a music and drama festival, an arts workshop, and a social gathering, this one-of-a-kind event is open to members of the William Morris Society and the general public.

British Labour politician Tony Benn (better known as Anthony Wedgwood Benn), the guest of honour, will speak on "The Legacy of William Morris."

The opening night features a very exciting theatrical event, a special performance of the new play Alexandra Kollontai in London by Penelope Dimond. First performed on 8 March at the Torriano Meeting House to celebrate International Women’s Day, the play concerns Alexandra Kollontai, was a leading figure in revolutionary Russia and the only woman in Lenin’s government. Dimond’s was inspired by Kollontai’s visits to London between 1899 and 1913— she encounters a number of leading English Socialists, learns of William Morris, visits Upper Mall, Hammersmith, and sees the meeting place of the Hammersmith Socialists.

The playwright, Penelope Dimond, said: "I am thrilled that my play is to be performed in the historic Lecture Room that was the meeting place of the Hammersmith Socialists, and which the characters in my play knew and spoke about. When I wrote the scene in my play where a character pays homage to the memory of William Morris I had no idea that it would one day be performed for the William Morris Society. I am delighted by this highly appropriate and fortunate opportunity for my play to be performed during the Morris 175 celebration."
4–6 Septmeber 2009
Kelmscott House
26 Upper Mall
London W6 9TA UK
Weekend tickets (Friday evening, all day Saturday & Sunday): £50 members & concessions; £63 non-members. Friday evening only: £10 members & concessions; £13 non-members. Saturday only: £36 members & concessions; £45 non-members. Sunday only: £24 members & concessions; £30 non-members. Priority will be given to those booking weekend tickets. When booking, please state whether you have any special dietary requirements.

The full pogram may be downloaded here (PDF format). For further information please e-mail william.morris@care4free.net, or telephone 020 87413735 on
Tuesday, Thursday, or a Saturday afternoon.

10 May 2009

Morris Society Visit to the Greene and Green exhibition, 23 May in Washington, DC

On Saturday, 23 May, the William Morris Society is organizing a visit to the exhibition, The Art and Craft of Greene and Greene, at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. We'll gather for lunch afterwards at a nearby restaurant. Open to all--you do not have to be a member of the society to come.

About the exhibition: the architecture and decorative arts designed by Charles Greene (1868–1957) and his brother Henry Greene (1870-1954) a century ago in California are recognized as among the finest of the American arts and crafts movement. The Greenes carefully considered every detail of the buildings and objects they designed, incorporating European, Asian and Native American influences. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, they believed architecture to be a design language for life, imbuing their projects with a sensitivity for geography, climate, landscape and lifestyle. The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene, the most comprehensive exhibition of the brothers' work to date, examines their legacy with 127 objects, including furniture, stained glass and metalwork, as well as rare architectural drawings and photographs. The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gamble House, constructed between 1907 and 1909 in Pasadena, CA, which is one of the Greenes' best-known commissions.
Saturday, 23 May 2009
11 a. m.
Renwick Gallery
1661 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (at 17th Street)
Washington, DC

03 May 2009

Last Chance at the De Morgan Foundation

The De Morgan Foundation has long been one of the little-known treasures among London's art museums. Located in Wandsworth, south of the river, its collection focuses on the work of William De Morgan, a ceramicist associated with William Morris who late in life had an unexpected second career as a novelist, and his wife, Evelyn, née Pickering, a talented painter. There is now a last chance to see the foundation's stunning installation of art and pottery before it all leaves its present home on 25 July 2009. Combined with a memorial exhibition of paintings by the late Jon Catleugh, on display from 17 June, the exhibition will culminate in an auction sale on Friday, 24 July 2009  at 6.30 for 7.30 p. m. For more information: info@demorgan.co.uk.
De Morgan Centre
38 West Hill
London SW18 1RZ
020 88 71 11 44

20 April 2009

The Sleeping Beauty: Victorian Paintings—in Madrud

Until 24 April the Prado in Madrid is featuring The Sleeping Beuaty: Victorian Paintings from the Museo de Arte de Ponce. The highlights are, of course, Leighton's Flaming June and Burne-Jones's Arthur in Avalon (displayed with two equally stunning works from the Briar Rose series). In addition, there are also paintings and drawings by Millais, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and the rarely-seen Thomas Seddon, to name just a few. It is interesting to note that this year, Victorian art is found outside of its normal home-ground, Britain. Consider that Holman Hunt is in Minneapolis, the Royal Holloway paintings are traveling to Delaware and Connecticut, Waterhouse has been to Montreal, and now two major shows are on in Spain and Sweden. A cynic might say that the British are becoming tired of the period and the artists, that they've moved on, that the Victorians have been so overexposed as to become almost a joke. And perhaps now only "foreign" museums have the money and inclination to put on large loan exhibitions. I certainly have noticed on our annual June trips to London—prime museum season—that nineteenth century art has been harder to find in recent years. Last year there was Tate Britain's exploration of the Middle East, but that was about it.

16 March 2009

Blood, Absinthe, and Aphorisms: New Currents in Aestheticism and Decadence

The unusual and catchy title above is that of a conference to be held 30 April–1 May in New York. Organized b Richard Kaye and Talia Schaffer and held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, "Blood, Absinthe, and Aphorisms" brings together scholars in a variety of disciplines to examine aestheticism and decadence in late Victorian literature, art, theater, politics, and popular culture. Reginia Gagnier is the keynote speaker and the opening roundtable, "What's New in Decadence and Aestheticism,"represents a "who's who" of experts in the field—Dennis Dennisoff, Joseph Bristow, Linda K. Hughes, Richard Dellamora, and Margaret D. Stetz. Longer presentations concern C. R. Ashbee and British utopias, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, and romanticism; Aubrey Beardsley and the art of the poster; Edward Carpenter and domestic interiors, and Black decadence in the work of M. P. Shiel. (Although not specifically named as the subject for any of the papers, one senses that William Morris or Edward Burne-Jones might be mentioned form time to time.)
Thursday, 30 April 2009
5.30 to 8 p. m.
Friday, 1 May 2009
8.45 a. m. to 6 p. m.
Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
Open to the public without cost or registration.

Illustration: William Nicholson, James McNeill Whistler, woodcut touched with watercolor, 1897 (Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library)

15 March 2009

Pre-Raphaelites in Stockholm: Report by Jan Marsh

What is billed as the first major show of Pre-Raphaelite art ever held in Scandanavia is on until 24 May. Titled (obviously) The Pre-Raphaelites at the National Musuem, Stockhilm, consists largely of loans from UK museums and galleries, but there are several unusual twists to the exhibition. For one thing, the arrangement is not strictly chronological; for another, there is a representation of Northern artists influenced by the PRB; and finally, among the highlights are several works from the National Museum's own collection, some of them--such as this Rossetti sketch of Elizabeth Siddal sketching--purchased quite recently.

Jan Marsh, the noted biographer, editor, and Pre-Raphaelite scholar, has kindly sent us a report on this large and important exhibition, click here for a link.

Anna Sui's "favorite artists"—Beardsley, Burne-Jones, and Waterhouse

We were watching CBS Sunday Morning--arguably the only program on US television which pays regular attention to design, the book arts, and visual culture in general--and were transfixed when the fashion designer, Anna Sui, said that inspiration for a recent collection came from "late nineteenth century artists." A visit to the biography posted on her website reveals that under "Favorite Artists" she lists the following (and only the following):
George LePape
Christian Berard
Aubrey Beardsley
John William Waterhouse
Edward Burne-Jones

Just how much influence Beardsley and Burne-Jones have on Sui's unconventional and interesting fashion lines you can judge for yourself. But if Ms. Sui happens to be reading these words, we want to say--join the William Morris Society!

"The Art of the Book": Design and Craft in 19th-century Britain and 21st-century Canada

This year's William Morris Society of Canada symposium, "The Art of the Book: Design and Craft in 19th-century Britain and 21st-century Canada, " will be held on Saturday, 21 March, at University College, University of Toronto. In keeping with Morris’s own belief that books are the product of diverse talents working in cooperation, our 2009 symposium brings together printers, publishers, artists, and scholars to discuss the material form of the book as it is, has been, and might be. In the morning, William Whitla of York University will speak on the relationship between Morris’s calligraphy, book collecting, and printing practices, followed by William Rueter describing the work of his own Aliquando Press and its recent edition of the diaries of the artist and bookbinder T. J. Cobden-Sanderson. The afternoon will feature presentations on the past, present, and future of printing and book design. Speakers include Don Taylor, bookbinder and artist working in Toronto since 1980; and Reg Beatty, bookbinder, book artist, and teacher at York University and the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Immediately following the symposium, a party in University College’s Croft Chapter House will celebrate William Morris’s 175th birthday.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
9.30 a. m. to 4 p. m.
Room 179
University College
University of Toronto

Registration (includes lunch):
Paid in Advance, before March 14: $40 (members); $50 (non-members); $20 (students)
Paid at the Door: $50 (members): $60 (non-members); $30 (students)
Please note “pre-registration” is strongly recommended because “At he Door” registration may be very limited.

09 February 2009

Tennyson Bicentenary

It does seem remarkable that 2009 marks the bicentenary of Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alfred Tennyson. (Darwin and Lincoln were, in fact, born on the same day.) Although an exhibition last year sought to explore the ties between Darwin and William Morris, and while Morris's politics and ideals might owe something to Lincoln's, the real connection—for Morrisians at least—is with Tennyson. William Morris was a reader and admirer of the poet laureate; his own early poems owed much to Tennyson in theme and manner; in due course the two men became acquainted; finally, Tennyson's Maud was reprinted by the Kelmscott Press in 1893.

There are many events scheudled to mark the Tennyson anniversary, and a full schedule will be found on a site maintained by the Lincolnshire County Council. Two of particular interest are a lecture, on "Morris and Tennyson," by Peter Faulkner, to be given at Kelmscott House in Saturday, 3 March (see 2009 William Morris Events in the UK for details) and an exhibition, Tennyson Transformed, taking place 30 May - 31 August at The Collection, in Lincoln. Alfred Tennyson's influence on Victorian culture was not just literary: he inspired an extraordinary range of artists and designers. This major exhibition at The Collection will assemble vivid examples of artistic responses to Tennyson's poetry and person by some of the best known artists of the period. Unique objects from Lincoln's Tennyson Research Centre will be displayed alongside loans from major national collections.

Other events include an International conference to be held at Cambridge, concerts, a country dance program, and lectures at various locations throughout Britain. One thing that caught our eye is The Lady of Shalott Film, produced by WAG, a group which seems to have expanded an interest in local archeology into movie-making, What is striking about the film is how clearly its visual look is influenced by spefic Pre-Raphaleite paintings—the "teaser" trailers include the death scene on the boat straight out of J. W. Waterhouse. To see for yourelf go to www.theladyofshalott.co.uk.

28 January 2009

"Why Victorian Art?" Symposium at CUNY, 6 February

A symposium, open to the public, organized by the Department of Art History,
the City University of New York, Graduate Center.
Friday, 6 February 2009
9 a. m. to 5 p. m.
Martin E. Segal Theatre, Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY
In American academia, British Victorian art has been perceived pejoratively as regressive relative to French art's trajectory toward modernism. In sharp contrast, English departments in the United States have encouraged the study of British Victorian literature since it was first set down on paper, with postmodern scholars championing Victorian literature's handling of issues from colonialism and racism to aspects of gender and sexual identities. The Victorians were the dominant imperial power and leaders of the industrial world at the dawn of the twentieth century, but the study of Victorian visual art and culture is still largely looked upon unfavorably in the United States, with American museums only rarely mounting exhibitions about Victorian art. Recently, this trend has been slowly changing. More students are pursuing dissertation topics in the areas of British Victorian painting, sculpture, architecture, and photography. Furthermore, conferences such as the 2008 annual meeting of NAVSA acknowledge the rising importance of Victorian art, including interdisciplinary panel sessions on topics such as sculpture and global contexts, queer visualities, and Darwinism and the arts. "Why Victorian Art?" will bring together scholars to address two critical issues: why the study of Victorian art has been overlooked in the U.S., and how a closer examination of Victorian art can provide new or alternative perspectives in the study of nineteenth-century art and culture.

For more information download the symposium announcement.

25 January 2009

"Vernon Lushington: Pre-Raphaltie" Lecture in New York on 12 March

Although he was a friend and colleague to many famous artists, authors, and activists, the lawyer and positivist Vernon Lushington (1832–1912) remains virtually unknown today. In “Vernon Lushington: Pre-Raphaelite, Friend of William Morris, and Father of ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’” historian David Taylor will draw upon previously unavailable materials from the Lushington archive to shed light on the interesting and influential figure who arranged the first meeting between Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and who visited with William and Jane Morris at Kelmscott Manor. Taylor will also discuss the connection between the Lushingtons and the Stephen family. After the death of Mrs. Lushington, Vernon's three daughters (above) were taken under the wing of Julia Stephen, wife of Leslie Stephen and mother of Virginia Woolf. Vernon Lushington’s eldest daughter, Kitty, became the model for the title character of Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925). The Lushingtons also spent summers with the Stephen family at Talland House in Cornwall, which provided the setting for the Ramseys’ summer home in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927). Letters in the archive offer insight into Woolf’s fiction.David Taylor is a historian, writer, and lecturer living in Cobham, Surrey.

A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Taylor has published several works on the history of Cobham and presented lectures to the Virginia Woolf Society, the Pre-Raphaelite Society, and the William Morris Society. Vernon Lushington is the subject of Taylor’s doctoral research.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
6 p. m., reception to follow
The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY
Sponsored by the William Morris Society in the United States, the American Friends of Arts and Crafts in Chipping Campden, the Grolier Club, the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, and the Victorian Society in America.

Tickets: $12 reduced rate for members of the Society and the other sponsoring organizations; $18 for others.

For more details and to purchase a ticket, click here.

Contact Mark Samuels Lasner, (302) 83-3250.