William Morris Tapestries


‘Acanthus and Vine’ tapestry – 1879william-morris-1879-vine-acanthusThis was Morris’s first tapestry. It took 516 1/2 hours. a_franco-flemish_large-leaf_verdure_tapestry_mid-16th_century_d5614340g

‘I used to get up at daylight to puzzle out the tricks of the loom for myself’ (Daily Chronicle, 9 Oct. 1893)

The use of large curving leaves in the design and the use of faded colours in the weaving is significant. Morris’s historic source is ‘large-leaf’ verdure tapestries woven in France and Flanders in the sixteenth century. [Right]


‘The Woodpecker’ tapestry – 1885


‘The Forest’ tapestry – 1887william_morris_12.jpg[Embroidered inscription] ‘the beast that be in woodland waste, now sit and see nor ride nor haste’

This design is considered one of his most successful compositions, using a dance cover of trailing acanthus leaves, as seen in ‘Acanthus and Vine’.


‘Sunflower’ coverlet/hanging – 18763b3138f916f1e0793211023ce6d9de27.jpg

Morris’s tapestries were an attempted to reproduce medieval-looking hangings (but the results were unconventional). Despite using historical sources for reference, Morris was surprisingly scientific in application, combining accent recipes with modern technology.

While trying to achieve a medieval look, what developed was a long and complex search for perfect patterns, colours, textures and effects for the home. Morris felt textiles were an essential part of the decoration and comfort of the home. He constantly developed his own individual style of domestic textiles.


Author: Crisiant Williams

I am a Fine Art student, studying at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

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