Wreath

Wallpaper
1876 (Produced)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type

In Britain, paper printed with patterns has been used for decorating walls since the 16th century. By the late 19th century wallpapers were widely used by all classes, in homes and also in public buildings.

Materials & Making

This wallpaper was printed using wood-blocks cut by a family firm Barrett's in Bethnal Green, who dealt directly with Morris's firm in the transfer of designs. The London firm Jeffrey & Co., who specialised in high quality 'Art' wallpapers, printed them in distemper, water-based colours which gave a thick chalky effect. A large number of shades could be achieved using these methods.

Between 1875 and 1885 the firm greatly expanded its range, creating 21 designs for different budgets. By 1890, Morris charged between 53 and 80 pence per roll for 'Wreath', placing it in the top price bracket.

Morris advised his customers on the use of different types of patterns for decorative effects and stated that 'if there is a reason for keeping the walls quiet choose a pattern that works well all over without pronounced lines, such as the Diapers, Mallows, Venetians, Poppy, Scroll, Jasmine' and 'if you venture on a more decided patterning you ought always to go for positive patterns [such as] the Daisy, Trellis, Vine, Chrysanthemum, Lily, Honeysuckle, Larkspur, Rose, Acanthus'.

Morris designed a number of wallpapers all with repeating patterns based on natural forms. He asked in his published lecture, 'Some Hints on Pattern-Designing', whether it is 'not better to be reminded however simply of the close vine trellises which keep out the sun [...] than having to count day after day a few sham-real boughs and flowers, casting sham-real shadows on your walls, with little hint of anything beyond Covent Garden in them?' However he also advised that 'the more mechanical the process [like paper-staining], the less direct should be imitation of natural forms'.

People route

William Morris was an English designer, writer and activist. As both a designer and theorist for the arts, his importance cannot easily be overestimated, and his influence continues. He was a committed Socialist and his objective was that art should be for the people and by the people, as in the Middle Ages. This was a view expressed in a number of his writings. He left his training as an architect and studied painting amongst members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists who rejected what they viewed as uninspiring academicism in painting and founded a movement in 1848. Decades later, Morris founded his own firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. which became Morris & Co. in 1875. Both firms produced stained glass, furniture, wallpaper and fabrics.

Place route

Morris changed the way in which people of comparatively modest income decorated their homes. By designing and selling Morris products in a single outlet, first in out-of -the-way Bloomsbury, and from 1877 in a building in Oxford Street, he enabled the homeowner to decorate in a co-ordinated way. Morris's firms were one of the first 'one-stop shops' for interior decoration.
alt tag here
read William Morris and wallpaper design During his career, William Morris produced over 50 wallpapers. These designs – many of which feature in the V&A's extensive Morris collection – adopted a naturalistic and very British take on pattern that was both new and quietly radical.
object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Print on paper
Brief Description
Specimen of 'Wreath' wallpaper, a foliate pattern of entwined green leaves and blue flowers; Print on paper; William Morris; Part of 'Volume 1', a pattern book containing 25 Morris & Co. patterns from 1862-81 (E.441-529-1919); England; 1876.
Physical Description
Specimen of 'Wreath' wallpaper, a foliate pattern of entwined green leaves and blue flowers; Print on paper; Inscribed on the back in ink with title, number and price.

Part of 'Volume 1', a pattern book containing 25 Morris & Co. patterns from 1862-81 (E.441-529-1919).
Dimensions
  • Size of volume height: 68.5cm
  • Size of volume width: 53.3cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(Inscribed on the back in ink with title, number and price.)
Gallery Label
[Draft] 6 'WREATH' WALLPAPER AS PRODUCED 1876 This is a sample of finished wallpaper from the design on the left. Between 1875 and 1885 the firm greatly expanded its range, creating 21 designs for different budgets. By 1890, Morris charged between 53 and 80 pence per roll for ‘Wreath’, placing it in the top price bracket. Morris believed that ‘the more mechanical the process [like paper-staining], the less direct should be imitation of natural forms’. Though hatching adds 3-dimensionality, this is still surface pattern. Block printed in distemper colours on paper Designed by William Morris; printed in London by Jeffrey & Co. for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Given by Morris & Co. Museum no. E.501-1919(2010)
Credit line
Given by Morris and Company
Object history
Given by Morris & Co.
Production
Within pattern book Volume 1 (1862-81).
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type


In Britain, paper printed with patterns has been used for decorating walls since the 16th century. By the late 19th century wallpapers were widely used by all classes, in homes and also in public buildings.



Materials & Making


This wallpaper was printed using wood-blocks cut by a family firm Barrett's in Bethnal Green, who dealt directly with Morris's firm in the transfer of designs. The London firm Jeffrey & Co., who specialised in high quality 'Art' wallpapers, printed them in distemper, water-based colours which gave a thick chalky effect. A large number of shades could be achieved using these methods.



Between 1875 and 1885 the firm greatly expanded its range, creating 21 designs for different budgets. By 1890, Morris charged between 53 and 80 pence per roll for 'Wreath', placing it in the top price bracket.



Morris advised his customers on the use of different types of patterns for decorative effects and stated that 'if there is a reason for keeping the walls quiet choose a pattern that works well all over without pronounced lines, such as the Diapers, Mallows, Venetians, Poppy, Scroll, Jasmine' and 'if you venture on a more decided patterning you ought always to go for positive patterns [such as] the Daisy, Trellis, Vine, Chrysanthemum, Lily, Honeysuckle, Larkspur, Rose, Acanthus'.



Morris designed a number of wallpapers all with repeating patterns based on natural forms. He asked in his published lecture, 'Some Hints on Pattern-Designing', whether it is 'not better to be reminded however simply of the close vine trellises which keep out the sun [...] than having to count day after day a few sham-real boughs and flowers, casting sham-real shadows on your walls, with little hint of anything beyond Covent Garden in them?' However he also advised that 'the more mechanical the process [like paper-staining], the less direct should be imitation of natural forms'.



People route


William Morris was an English designer, writer and activist. As both a designer and theorist for the arts, his importance cannot easily be overestimated, and his influence continues. He was a committed Socialist and his objective was that art should be for the people and by the people, as in the Middle Ages. This was a view expressed in a number of his writings. He left his training as an architect and studied painting amongst members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists who rejected what they viewed as uninspiring academicism in painting and founded a movement in 1848. Decades later, Morris founded his own firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. which became Morris & Co. in 1875. Both firms produced stained glass, furniture, wallpaper and fabrics.



Place route


Morris changed the way in which people of comparatively modest income decorated their homes. By designing and selling Morris products in a single outlet, first in out-of -the-way Bloomsbury, and from 1877 in a building in Oxford Street, he enabled the homeowner to decorate in a co-ordinated way. Morris's firms were one of the first 'one-stop shops' for interior decoration.
Associated Object
E.500-1919 (Colourway)
Bibliographic References
  • Oman, Charles C., and Hamilton, Jean. Wallpapers: a history and illustrated catalogue of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Sotheby Publications, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982.
  • Harvey, Charles and Jon Press. William Morris: Design and Enterprise in Victorian Britain. Manchester University Press, 1991.
  • Parry, Linda, [Ed.]. William Morris. London: PhilipWilson Publishers in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996.
  • Oman, Charles C., and Hamilton, Jean. Wallpapers: a history and illustrated catalogue of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Sotheby Publications, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1919, London: Printed Under the Authority of His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1921
Collection
Accession Number
E.501-1919

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record createdJune 11, 2009
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