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Tulip and Willow

Furnishing Fabric
1873 (designed), 1883 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Printed cotton furnishing textile intended for use as curtains, wall decoration and furniture upholstery.This was the second textile designed by Morris. The original watercolour design for this textile is in the collection of the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham. It took some years to put this pattern into commercial production.

Originally Morris commissioned Thomas Clarkson of Bannister Hall, one of the leading manufacturers of printed textiles, to print this design as he had no means to do it himself. They used chemical, aniline dyestuffs, which were widely used in practice at the time. Morris was unhappy with the crude effects of the bright blue used.

In 1875 he spent time with Thomas Wardle at his print works in Leek, Staffordshire, experimenting with natural dyes. It is likely that this pattern was attempted then. A letter from Morris to Wardle at the time complains yet again about the blue dyes, claiming that 'they wash even worse than Clarkson's blues; in fact worse that any I have ever seen and it would be useless to sell them in the present state.' Morris then abandoned all attempts to produce the pattern until 1883, when it was successfully achieved by the indigo discharge method in his own factory at Merton Abbey, Wimbledon.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Block-printed and indigo discharge cotton
Brief Description
Furnishing fabric 'Tulip and Willow' of block-printed cotton, designed by William Morris in 1873, made by Morris & Co., London, after 1883
Physical Description
Furnishing fabric of block-printed cotton and indigo discharged.
Dimensions
  • Including blue border at one end height: 135.5cm
  • Width: 93cm
  • Not including blue border at one end height: 127.5cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 10/10/2001 by ET
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This is Morris's second design for textiles. Early versions printed by a Lancashire firm were not successful, as Morris wanted to use indigo which involved a complex process little known in England at that time. It took Morris a further ten years to perfect the technique. Soon after this he opened his workshops at Merton Abbey, Wimbledon.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by London County Council
Object history
Designed by William Morris (born in London, 1834, died there in 1896); printed from 1883 by Morris & Co., at the Merton Abbey Works, near Wimbledon, London
Summary
Printed cotton furnishing textile intended for use as curtains, wall decoration and furniture upholstery.This was the second textile designed by Morris. The original watercolour design for this textile is in the collection of the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham. It took some years to put this pattern into commercial production.



Originally Morris commissioned Thomas Clarkson of Bannister Hall, one of the leading manufacturers of printed textiles, to print this design as he had no means to do it himself. They used chemical, aniline dyestuffs, which were widely used in practice at the time. Morris was unhappy with the crude effects of the bright blue used.



In 1875 he spent time with Thomas Wardle at his print works in Leek, Staffordshire, experimenting with natural dyes. It is likely that this pattern was attempted then. A letter from Morris to Wardle at the time complains yet again about the blue dyes, claiming that 'they wash even worse than Clarkson's blues; in fact worse that any I have ever seen and it would be useless to sell them in the present state.' Morris then abandoned all attempts to produce the pattern until 1883, when it was successfully achieved by the indigo discharge method in his own factory at Merton Abbey, Wimbledon.
Bibliographic References
  • Parry, Linda, ed. William Morris. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Limited, 1996. 384 p., ill. ISBN 0856674419
  • Karen Livingstone and Linda Parry, eds., International Arts & Crafts (V&A: V&A Publications, 2005), p.15
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.91-1933

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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