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 again used as one of the dining rooms. 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 with scenes from the story of St. Geoge. The firm exhibited it at the 1862 International Exhibition.Another piece of painted furniture designed by the firm has painted figures of King Rene's Honeymoon showing the king as a painter, a sculptor etc.
The museum also has panels of stained glass by the firm including Rossetti's Legend of St, George.
The museum also has a large collection of textiles by the firm. Small samples can be seen in the textiles study Room. Larger textiles include the tapestry of Ministering Angels and the Bullerswood Carpet, one of his expensive "hand knotted Hammersmith rugs", named after his house in Hammersmith.
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.
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
William Morris Books on William Morris
Morris Stained glass