Thursday, December 6, 2012

History of the Firm

One of William Morris' closest life-long friend was Edward Burne-Jones, whom he met at Exeter College, Oxford. Together, the two friends studied medieval manuscripts in school, and Morris soon fell in love with the medieval lifestyle as recorded. Because of this influence, much of his later work as an architect, writer, and craftsman incorporated themes of the Medieval time.

When the Red House was built, much of the interior decoration happened as a group effort from the help of the Morris' friends. Burne-Jones and Morris' other artistic friends painted many of the murals in Red House. Morris' wife, Jane Burden, a stableman's daughter, had married the wealthy William Morris in order to help with the financial difficulties of her family.

Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co was the firm that Morris and his friends (Rossetti, Charles Faulkner, Ford Maddox Brown, Philip Webb, and Marshall) started in 1861. The firm produced tile, wallpaper and furniture inspired by the medieval design and mystical tales. 

Although Morris is well known for his wallpaper design, he disliked the medium and only resorted to its use because it was a less expensive type of tapestry (which required much more labour and money to create, but tapestries were much more detailed and rich in narrative than wallpapers). On the other hand, Morris enjoyed making tiles and even had his own pottery company. The firm produced two distinct lines of furniture, both designed by Webb. One involved more decoration and was carved in a medieval style, like the artifacts found in the Red House. The other line of furniture was more simplistic in its aesthetic and craft, making it relatively inexpensive and allowing it to maintain its popularity over a longer period time.


Marsh, Jan. William Morris & Red House. London, UK: National Trust, n.d.

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