Posted on | April 25, 2011 | 9 Comments
As one of the most versatile and imaginative artists of the late nineteenth century, Walter Crane stood near the epicenter of the budding Arts & Crafts movement and proved one of its most successful and public advocates.
His early success as a commercial artist began with the publication of colored picture books for children published by Routledge starting in 1865. It wasn’t long after, however, that he was turning his talents toward the design of textiles, ceramics, embroidery, stained glass, gesso relief, mosaic and, (happily!), wallpaper. With this particular creative outlet Crane demonstrated himself to be particularly brilliant and inventive.
His association with the wallpaper industry came after Metford Warner, the proprietor of the innovative firm Jeffrey and Co., invited Crane to submit a design based on his then popular childrens’ books. Crane did so, which was only the first of some fifty designs eventually produced by the firm. Crane produced seven patterns specifically for the domestic Victorian nursery, but with his sensitivity to flat wall pattern developing he was to expand his range of motifs beyond those tailored to the juvenile environment.
One of Crane’s earliest examples of this (first produced in 1877) was a frieze, filling and dado combination incorporating stylized irises, cattails, and kingfishers. Among the available patterns in the set was an “optional” panel (above) with symmetrically opposed swans that could be pasted into a dado of repeating irises, sort of as a chair-level focal point for a room. In its composition and style this particular panel alludes to Crane’s interest in the formality of classical design, contrasted with the remaining elements of the set that seemed to speak more to the popular Japanese taste then in fashion.
Now from April 2nd through July 17, 2011 Crane’s original design work-up of the Swan Wallpaper (panel) for Jeffrey & Co. will be on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, all part of “The Cult of Beauty” exhibit showcasing highlights from the Aesthetic Movement. We’re happy to announce that in recognition of this exhibit we at Bradbury & Bradbury will be offering the Swan Wallpaper panel reproduced as a handprinted silk-screen poster on our website as of May 1st! So, if you’re a fan of Walter Crane we invite you to look for it then!
(Incidentally, we also offer Crane’s spectacular “Lion & Dove” frieze (1901) as a poster as well!)
Posted on | February 10, 2011 | No Comments
Last Friday we officially released our new Persian Room Set of wall and ceiling papers and the response has been terrific!
Sample kits are going out in the mail and calls have been coming in from all over, (even the folks at Disneyland are considering it for an installation)! We’re thrilled, and among the attention it’s received was a post from the blog Decor Arts Now which also features some historic context on the Orientalist style, and some great pictures of one of the 19th century’s architectural monuments to that style, Olana.
Our sincerest thanks for all the positive Persian feedback!!
Posted on | February 4, 2011 | No Comments
A customer named Lisa sent us photos of a curious wallpaper installed in a historic home belonging to a friend of hers. She wanted to learn something about the design, but I regret to say we did not have any great insights to offer her. We did, however, recently come across some clues regarding an uncovered ornamental ceiling in Texas . Those clues came to us through the helpful assistance of one of our readers. So, we thought we would again solicit all of you for clues to yet another design “mystery”.
Might this pattern, (which could be catergorized as Chinoiserie, having several Chinese elements in it), be depicting a folktale or story of some kind? And what about the bells that appear throughout the pattern? Do they represent “Peng Ling” bells, (a traditional Chinese musical instrument) or something else??
Well, as I said, since we are not authorities on Chinoiserie, or the language of that style, we are once again throwing this out to you, our readers! Can you help us with clues to the mystery of this pattern and tell Lisa, her friend and the rest of us the story behind it??
Incidentally, the house in which this wallpaper is installed is a “Spanish Revival”, built in 1925. The wallpaper is believed to have been hung shortly after it was built…
Posted on | January 18, 2011 | 2 Comments
Having just seen a breathtaking installation of this paper I wanted to reprint this post from 2009 for the benefit of those readers who had not yet seen it. It may answer some questions:
Shortly after it’s establishment in 1861, Morris & Co. received a number of important secular commissions, one of which being the decoration of St. James’s Palace. Queen Victoria must have been satisfied with the firm’s earlier work on the Armoury and Tapestry Room in the late 1860′s, since they were invited back again in 1880 to decorate several more spaces, the Grand Staircase and the Throne Room being among them. For these primarily, Morris designed the wallpaper St. James’s in two different colorways. This “ruby” coloring was created for the Throne Room. Interestingly, the final installations of the papers were then varnished.
The pattern is very formal and damask-like, but utilizes Morris’ traditional style of skillfully woven networks of foliage in repose. The large and regal scale of the pattern fit the grand spaces for which it was intended. It had a horizontal repeat of approximately 41 inches, (which meant two widths of the standard 20.5” paper just to complete the pattern) and a vertical repeat of 47″, (because of this long vertical repeat, it required two blocks to print each color laydown). All in all, the pattern required sixty-eight woodblocks to print it’s finished 17 colors.
Despite it’s costly production, St. James’s was later offered in Morris & Co.’s standard line and enjoyed some installations elsewhere.
We, of course, offer our “St. James” today in a more residential scale (27″ wide), but still with each of its 17 colors all being meticulously handprinted. It is still one of my all-time favorite wallpaper patterns!« go back — keep looking »