William Morris at the Victoria and Albert Museum (The V&A)
The V&A is one of the museums built in the South Kensington area of London from the unexpected profits made by The Great Exhibition of 1851. The museum buildings as well as part of their contents provide striking examples of Victorian decorative arts.
In the 1860s the V&A, then known as the South Kensington Museum, asked William Morris's firm to decorate one of their new dining rooms. The image on the right shows why it was called the Green Dining Room. Now it is called the 'Morris Room'. It has stained glass windows by Burne-Jones and he also designed the figures on the panelling. Morris designed the panels next the figures with branches of fruit or flowers and Philip Webb designed the olive branches on the walls and the frieze above them.
More examples of work by Morris's firm can be seen in the British Galleries, re-opened in 2001. The Saint George Cabinet was designed by Webb and painted by Morris. The firm exhibited it at the 1862 International Exhibition. On the wall behind it is the huge Bullerswood carpet, one of Morris's expensive hand knotted 'Hammersmith rugs'.
A tile panel by the firm has scenes of The Sleeping Beauty by Burne-Jones. It is one of the overmantels which he designed for the house of the artist Birket Foster. More of the firm's hand painted tiles can be seen in the Ceramics Galleries.
Stained glass by Morris's firm in the British Galleries includes the four scenes from King Rene's Honeymoon and Rossetti's Legend of Saint George.
Morris was very proud of the fact that he revived the manufacture and use of tapestries. The V&A owns several Morris tapestries but is only exhibiting Burne-Jones's Angeli Ministrantes. This has two 'ministering angels'. They are based on two Burne-Jones windows made for Salisbury Cathedral. Henry Dearle designed the 'mille fleur' background, which is based on medieval tapestries. Dearle was the first workman whom Morris trained to weave tapestries. This was after Morris had taught himself the art of tapestry weaving. He did this by studying an old French book and weaving a tapestry himself. The V&A owns the Diary in which Morris noted how many hours he spent weaving it.
William Morris Books on William Morris
Morris Stained glass