George and Rufus

Furnishing Fabric
1938 (made)
George and Rufus thumbnail 1
George and Rufus thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Ben Nicholson first met Alaistair Morton, founder of Edinburgh Weavers, in the early 1930s. He was struggling financially as an artist and so was grateful for the work Morton passed his way, especially during the war years. Nicholson gave the original design for this fabric as a painting to Morton in 1940 accompanied by a letter in which he wrote, 'I wonder if you would like the enclosed piece of nursery realism for your realistic nursery? Tell me frankly if you don't like it, or if it is too much like the one you have ... I imagine it in a narrow white frame and hung low down'. Morton subsequently translated the painting into a repeat pattern for a nursery fabric.

Jake Nicholson, Ben's son by his first marriage to Winifred Nicholson, remembers that the animals in his paintings usually had names. 'Dogs were called Booboo or Ponto, and horses seemed to be George, or if they were roan coloured, Rufus, and they tended to be skittish. There was also a stag called Johnny and even a crocodile called Billy.'


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Screen-printed rayon
Brief Description
Furnishing fabric 'George and Rufus' of screen-printed rayon, designed by Ben Nicholson, made by Edinburgh Weavers, England, 1938
Physical Description
Furnishing fabric of screen-printed rayon featuring animals with the sea in the background. The design is abstract and naive with bold blocks of colour.
Dimensions
  • Length: 183cm
  • Width: 127cm
  • Diameter: 95mm (Note: Diameter of box.)
Production typeMass produced
Object history
The design was originally done by Nicholson for a children's book, which never materialised.
Production
Reason For Production: Retail
Subjects depicted
Summary
Ben Nicholson first met Alaistair Morton, founder of Edinburgh Weavers, in the early 1930s. He was struggling financially as an artist and so was grateful for the work Morton passed his way, especially during the war years. Nicholson gave the original design for this fabric as a painting to Morton in 1940 accompanied by a letter in which he wrote, 'I wonder if you would like the enclosed piece of nursery realism for your realistic nursery? Tell me frankly if you don't like it, or if it is too much like the one you have ... I imagine it in a narrow white frame and hung low down'. Morton subsequently translated the painting into a repeat pattern for a nursery fabric.



Jake Nicholson, Ben's son by his first marriage to Winifred Nicholson, remembers that the animals in his paintings usually had names. 'Dogs were called Booboo or Ponto, and horses seemed to be George, or if they were roan coloured, Rufus, and they tended to be skittish. There was also a stag called Johnny and even a crocodile called Billy.'
Bibliographic Reference
The Nicholsons: A Story of Four People and Their Designs, Exhibition Catalogue, York City Art Gallery, 1988
Collection
Accession Number
CIRC.464-1939

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record createdApril 14, 2009
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