William Morris (1834-1896) weft-faced compound twill; wool
For Morris & Company, textiles, including embroidery, printed cotton, woven fabrics, tapestries, and carpets, were among the most profitable of the company’s merchandise. William Morris was a born pattern maker and looked to both nature and history as a model.
During an age when rooms were stuffed with mass-produced objects and teeming with ornament, Morris challenged people to “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Throughout his career, however, there was a tension between Morris’s desire to make high-quality goods widely available and the expense of producing handcrafted items from fine materials, which meant primarily the wealthy could afford them. One of his costly innovations was to return to the natural dyes that had been replaced during his lifetime by garish and fugitive chemical dyes. Evidence of the rich and subtle hues of natural dye is apparent in textiles such as Violet and Columbine, woven from wool and mohair.
Morris sought to produce textiles that could function as he imagined medieval wall hangings had, bringing warmth to stone-cold rooms. Boldly designed with soothing colours in thick wool, Peacock and Dragon is the closest Morris came to achieving this ideal. In the same year he designed this textile, Morris visited the shop of the London dealer Vincent Robinson, where he saw a room re-created from Damascus, “all vermillion and gold and ultramarine, very beautiful, and is just like going into the Arabian nights.” It partly inspired the exotic motifs seen here. This design was one of the most popular among Morris’s customers; it was available in five colourways.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-652: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)