16 January 2010

The Lost William Morris Carpet of Holland Park is For Sale

Alexander Ionides, the Greek Consul-General in London commissioned Phillip Webb and William Morris to transform his magnificent house, No. 1 Holland Park (now the Greek Embassy) into a showpiece of the decorative talents of William Morris and his circle. In the photograph of the Marble Hall (from the Studio, 1897) a magnificent Morris and Co. carpet may be seen. Ionides and Morris had a shared interest in Middle Eastern design, and Morris and Co bought dyes used for dying carpets from Ionides & Co., the family;s textile firm.

Ionides's son, Alexander Ionides, inherited the house, which was sold ten years later his widow to the trustees for the sixth Earl of Ilchester. After damage by incendiary bombs in World War II the property passed to London County Council in 1952. When the council decided to demolish what remained of the house in 1953 nothing of value was found in the interior.

Of the original furnishings in the house, a piano designed by Burne-Jones, a Morris carpet, and a tapestry designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and J. H. Dearle, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A second Morris and Co. carpet is now on the market. A second Morris and Co. carpet, bought from Bonhams, London a number of years ago and listed in Malcolm Haslam's book, Arts and Crafts Carpets (1991), is currently for sale. It dates from ca. 1883 and measures 508 x 131 cm. For a private viewing in the Holland Park area contact Dominic Woods, alliedcentral@yahoo.com.

Facing the Late Victorians Exhibition at the Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa, FL

When the Tampa Bay Hotel opened in 1891, hotel guests were reading Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, and George Eliot and talking about the latest paintings by James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. They congregated on the veranda and in the Grand Salon to recite the poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson and chuckled with amusement at Oscar Wilde’s witticisms. These celebrities and their works were part of their lives. Today, Museum guests will laugh and gossip as they explore the world made relevant by these famous artists and writers.

The Henry B. Plant Museum will soon present an exhibition that examines noted Victorians through portraits. Facing the Late Victorians: Portraits of Writers and Artists from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection will provide the opportunity for visitors to come face to face with famous British poets, painters, novelists, playwrights and illustrators. The exhibit opens 5 March and continues through 5 June 2010.

This exhibition will take audiences back more than one hundred years to explore a phenomenon that will seem astonishingly modern and familiar. Like the world we know now, Britain at the end of the nineteenth century was a nation filled with images. Whether circulating by means of posters, books, newspapers, magazines, cards, and advertisements, or hanging on the walls of art galleries and of private homes, images were everywhere. As is true today, what people most wanted to see then were images of faces and bodies, especially those of celebrities. A visual industry arose in the late Victorian period to satisfy the demand for portraits in every medium and to reproduce these on a mass scale. Pictures of monarchs and stage performers, of course, were in great demand; more surprisingly, so were portraits of what we might call cultural celebrities—that is, writers and artists. Figures such as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Aubrey Beardsley, James McNeill Whistler, W. B. Yeats, "George Eliot," and the feminist "New Women" writers were as famous for the way they looked and dressed as for anything they created.

Writers and artists trafficked in commodities, and they became commodities. Their portraits also provided material for other workers in this industry, such as caricaturists, who knew that the public took just as great a delight in seeing its cultural heroes skewered as idealized. These caricature artists, in turn, became celebrities themselves thanks to the "New Journalism," which was eager to circulate unflattering images of the same poets and painters it made famous.

Facing the Late Victorians features portraits of dozens of well-known figures such as George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Barrie, H. G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, and John Singer Sargent, who dominated the world of the arts, along with pioneering children’s book authors and illustrators, such as E. Nesbit and Kate Greenaway. Many of these are rarely seen images, such as Max Beerbohm’s savage caricature of Oscar Wilde’s head, which seems to decay before our eyes faster than did Dorian Gray’s face. But the show ranges widely to include photographs and drawings of many lesser lights whose work was important in advancing British art and literature—once celebrated writers such as the feminist novelist Olive Schreiner and the Catholic poet Alice Meynell, as well as the artists Ida Nettleship and William Rothenstein.

Of special note is a rare etching of famous actress Sarah Bernhardt, who gave her farewell performance at the Tampa Bay Hotel’s casino in 1906.

The show draws its sixty items from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library. Margaret D. Stetz, the exhibition’s curator, is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware.
5 March–5 June 2010
Henry B. Plant Museum
401 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL
(813) 254-1891

Media Contact: Sally Shifke
(813) 258-7302, sshifke@ut.edu
Related events

Facing the Late Victorians Roundtable Talk
Thursday, 11 March 2010, 4.00-5.15 pm, Reeves Theatre, Vaughn Hall, University of Tampa
In conjunction with the annual Nineteenth Century Studies Association conference, hosted at the University of Tampa, this roundtable discussion will include exhibition curator and noted scholar, Margaret D. Stetz, Professor of Women’s Studies and Humanities at the University of Delaware. Conference registrants and Museum members only. The NCSA conference, "Theatricality and the Performative in the Long Nineteenth Century" takes place 11–12 March.

Talk on "Collecting the Late Victorians"
Saturday, 13 March 2010, 12 noon-12.45 pm, MacDonald Kelce Library, University of Tampa
Illustrated talk by collector Mark Samuels Lasner, Senior Research Fellow, University of Delaware Library. Sponsored by the Friends of the Tampa Book Arts Studio and the Friends of the University of Tampa Library. Free and open to the public.

A lavishly illustrated book by Margaret D. Stetz, published by the University of Delaware Press, accompanies Facing the Late Victorians. Copies are available for purchase in the Henry B. Plant Museum Store.

For an illustrated review of the Grolier Club version of this exhibition, see Maureen E. Mulvihill's essay for the Victorian Society in America's March-April 2008 e-newsletter.

Facing the Late Victorians is underwritten by Mrs. (Jean) Joel Mattison and by J. Thomas and Lavinia W. Touchton.

The Henry B. Plant Museum interprets the turn-of-the-century Tampa Bay Hotel and the lifestyles of America’s Gilded Age. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm Sunday, noon to 4 pm. Closed Monday. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 per adult, $2 for children under 12.

Illustrations: Sidney Starr and James McNeill Whister, James McNeill Whistler, ink, 1890 (Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library); photograph of the Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa, FL.

Morris Society Calls for Papers—MLA 2011 Updated

William Morris Society

2011 Modern Language Association Annual Convention
6-9 January 2011, Los Angeles, CA

1. "Morris and the Arts: Books, Painting, Crafts, Architecture"
This is a regular session sponsored by the William Morris Society in the United States. We seek 15-minute papers which deal with William Morris and his close associates' work in, and connections to, the decorative and fine arts, crafts, architecture, printing/book arts, and architecture. Proposals to Florence S. Boos, florence-boos@uiowa.edu, by 20 March 2010.

2. "Pre-Raphaelite Uses of the Past"
Proposed session co-sponsored by the William Morris Society in the United States and the Society for Arthurian Literature. This session would examine aspects of Victorian historicism, especially neo-medievalism in painting, book design, poetry, romance narrative, translation and other genres. Papers might consider ways in which the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates and successors reshaped the works of Dante, Chaucer, Boccaccio, Froissart, the Icelandic sagas, Malory and other Arthurian sources for a middle-class Victorian audience. Reflections on the different forms of Victorian medievalism, variant uses of the same legends (e. g., of Launcelot and Guenevere), and the social context and psychological motivations of Victorian medievalism are also welcome. Proposals for 15-minute papers should be be sent to Michelle R. Warren, michelle.r.warren@dartmouth.edu, and Florence Boos, florence-boos@uiowa.edu, by 20 March. Notice of the MLA Program Committee's decision regarding this proposed session will be posted on the William Morris Society website in late Spring 2010.

08 January 2010

Huntington Library and LACMA Acquire Mackmurdo Chair

The Huntington Library and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently announced the joint purchase of an iconic chair designed by Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851–1942). One of only five chairs known to exist, the piece is one of only two in the United States went on view in the Design Reform movement rooms of the Huntington Art Gallery in late November. After two years at the Huntington, it will shift to LACMA’s newly reinstalled galleries dedicated to the Arts and Crafts movement.

Elaborately carved from mahogany with fluid tendrils forming the back, the chair is considered a key precursor of the Art Nouveau movement.

“When this extremely significant piece of revolutionary design linking the social and aesthetic thinking of William Morris with European Art Nouveau became available, we knew we should try to bring it to public view in Southern California,” said John Murdoch, the Hannah and Russel Kully Director of Art Collections at the Huntington. “And the most sensible way to do that was to join forces with LACMA. It simply seems the smartest way to build strength in depth when neighboring institutions collect in the same area.” The Huntington has a significant Arts and Crafts collection, with many works by William Morris and the architcts Greene and Greene.

“The word iconic has been so overused that it takes a work of art like this chair to restore its meaning,” said Wendy Kaplan, department head and curator of decorative art at LACMA. As Kaplan explained, the chair created a sensation when it was presented to the public at the landmark Inventions Exhibition in Liverpool in 1885. The press at the time generated an immediate buzz. Fifteen years later, they were still writing about it: the Studio magazine declared in 1899 that its “elaborately fretted back . . . and type of floral form” was the precursor of Art Nouveau. The renowned art historian Nikolaus Pevsner included Mackmurdo in his 1936 work Pioneers of Modern Design.
Mackmurdo was both an architect and designer who traveled with John Ruskin, one of the inspirational forces behind the Arts and Crafts movement. By the early 1880s he was a disciple of William Morris and the predominant founder of the Century Guild in 1882, an association of artists and entrepreneurs that attempted to realize the ideals of Morris by bringing the highest levels of artistic creativity to objects for the ordinary home. The chair dates from the very beginning of this enterprise and is one of relatively few pieces to bear the CG stamp.
“It is both a ravishingly beautiful and fascinating object,” said Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art at The Huntington. “This chair represents the first manifestation of a new design movement that emphasized sinuous, organic forms. Amazingly, it dates a full ten years before this movement, the Art Nouveau, emerged on the European continent. It also provides an extraordinary educational opportunity for all our audiences—including visitors looking to better understand how art movements evolved and why things look the way they do.”

[text adapted from the Huntington's website]

01 January 2010

Upcoming Events at Kelmscott House Museum

The next upcoming events at Kelmscott House Museum, the home of the William Morris Society in the UK are:

Saturday, 16 January, 2.15 p. m.
Antiscrap: A Campaign for the William Morris Gallery
The artist Roger Huddle, who was an organiser of the campaign against the running down and threatened closure of the Gallery, will talk about the campaign̢۪s achievements and the latest developments. A short film will be shown.

Sunday, 31 January, 7.00 p. m.
Recital by Zadok Baroque Trio

Unless otherwise stated events are at Kelmscott House starting at 2.15 p. m. Tickets: members and seniors £6; non-members £8; students and unemployed £4. All applications for tickets to William Morris Society office: Kelmscott House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, London W6 9TA, marking the envelope "tickets" and enclosing a stamped addressed envelope. Please pay for visits with a separate check for each visit. For more information about any event please call the office on 020 8741 3735 or email william.morris@care4free.net.

The Coach House
Kelmscott House Museum
26 Upper Mall
London W6 9TA UK
020 8741 3735

Call for Papers: Morris and the Arts
William Morris Society Session at the MLA Convention 2011

After many years of holding its conventions in late December, the Modern Language Association (MLA) has changed the time of its annual meeting to early January, and will meet next on 6–9 January 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. Changes in Allied Organization session procedures mean that the William Morris Society has only one confirmed 2011 session, on "Morris and the Arts: Books, Painting, Crafts, Architecture." Proposals for 15-minute papers for this session should be sent to Florence S. Boos by 20 March 2010. We also hope to co-sponsor a second session on "Pre-Raphaelite Audiences: Editors, Readers, Critics"; details for this will be announced on the Society's website after 1 February 2009.

Useful & Beautiful: The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites
Call for papers—proposals due 15 March 2010


7–9 October 2010

"Useful and Beautiful: The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites" will be the subject of a conference and related exhibitions to be held 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, art, and manuscripts collections; Winterthur's important holdings in American decorative arts; and the Delaware Art Museum's superlative Pre-Raphaelite collection (the largest outside Britain). All events 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 nineteenth century.

We seek 250- to 500-word proposals for short papers (15 minutes reading time, maximum) that explore relationships and influences—whether personal, intellectual, political, or aesthetic—connecting 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. Papers that examine transatlantic politics, social movements, and environmental issues in light of Morrisian, Pre-Raphaelite, and Arts and Crafts perspectives are also welcome.

Possible topic areas include:
William Morris's Influence in and on the Americas • The American Ruskinians • Transatlantic Arts and Crafts Architecture • British Connections to the American Aesthetic Movement • Designers Traveling, East to West or West to East • Arts and Crafts Places, Real and/or Imaginary • British Aesthetic Ideals and American Domestic Interiors • The Kelmscott Press and Transatlantic Print Culture • Aesthetic Periodicals and/or Little Magazines Crossing the Atlantic • Publishing the Pre-Raphaelites in the Americas • American Book Illustrators and Pre-Raphaelite Influences • The Transatlantic Poster Craze • Exhibiting the Pre-Raphaelites in the Americas • Americans Collecting Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites • Selling Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts Goods Across the Atlantic • Pre-Raphaelite Imagery and American Advertising • The Morris Chair as a Transatlantic Object • Morris and American Needlework • American Dress Reform and Pre-Raphaelite Influence • The Pre-Raphaelites and the Literature of the Americas • Oscar Wilde Visits America • Whitman and the Pre-Raphaelites • Morris and American Socialism • Morris & Co. Stained Glass in the Americas • American Drama and Pre-Raphaelite Figures • Pre-Raphaelitism and American Art Education • Photography and the Circulation of Pre-Raphaelite Images • Pre-Raphaelitism and American Music
The deadline for 250- to 500-word proposals is 15 March 2010. Please forward electronic submissions to:Mark Samuels Lasner.

Limited funding may be available for speakers whose papers focus specifically on William Morris and who are in need of financial assistance. To be considered for support, explain your circumstances when submitting your paper proposal.

In addition to conference sessions, there will be a keynote lecture, demonstrations by leading practitioners who make and design Arts and Crafts objects, special exhibitions, and related film, theater, and musical performances. The following exhibitions are anticipated at the time of the conference: Delaware Art Museum (May Morris, also permanent display of the Samuel and Mary Bancroft Pre-Raphaelite collection); University of Delaware Library (American literature, 1870–1916 exhibition and William Morris); University Gallery, University of Delaware (Ethel Reed: Transatlantic Artist of the 1890s); Winterthur (Arts and Crafts archival resources); and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (David Mabb: The Morris Kitsch Archive).

For more information go to www.morrissociety.org or contact Mark Samuels Lasner, (302) 831-3250.

"Useful and Beautiful" is supported by the Delaware Art Museum, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, the William Morris Society in the United States, the William Morris Society (UK), and the following University of Delaware departments and programs: College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Delaware Library, Art, Art Conservation, Art History, English, History, and Material Culture Studies. Illustration by Helen O’Kane from William Morris, Pre-Raphaleite Ballads (New York, 1900), Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library.