William Morris’s Flowers

V&A. Sept. 2019. 144p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780500480458. $19.95. DEC ARTS
Known in his time for his poetry, William Morris (1834–96) was also among the 19th century’s most influential designers and a founder of the arts and crafts movement in Great Britain, advocating for craftsmanship over mass production. His true legacy is the beautiful designs he created for carpets, fabric, and wallpaper. This title focuses on Morris’s flower motifs and is generously illustrated. Morris was greatly inspired by nature and the gardens of his home and surrounding areas. He felt the design motifs of the Victorian era were heavy and relied too much on realistic depictions of nature. Introducing more stylized, fluid renditions of vines and flowers, he also helped revive traditional textile methods and used color dyes from nature. Curator Bain (William Morris Gallery, London) provides a concise biographical sketch of Morris and the development of his designs, identifying each illustration by its origins and influences.
VERDICT For fans of the arts and crafts movement and 19th-century design, this is a beautiful, informative, and affordable work highlighting Morris’s many floral motifs.
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