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.