Rare Morris wonder wallpapers go on display in £60,000 deal

By Culture24 Staff | 11 June 2009
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A picture of a floral-designed wallpaper

(Above) William Morris, Fruit or Pomegranate, wallpaper design. Picture courtesy Bonhams

Two of the earliest designs by William Morris have been bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum in a £60,000 deal. Morris, considered the forefather of wallpaper, created more than 50 room-scaling patterns in a blueprint for the industry during the 19th century.

Fruit, a depiction of leaves, lemons, oranges and pomegranates painted by the artist on paper over pencil with gauche in 1862, bears a strong resemblance to the decorative plasterwork in the Museum's Green Dining Room, decorated by Morris's firm in 1866.

A picture of a faded wallpaper with a template for a floral design on it

William Morris, Poppy or Wreath, wallpaper design. Picture courtesy Bonhams

The second purchase, alternately labelled Poppy or Wreath, uses similar techniques to create flowers from Morris’s later phase and draws upon classical acanthus and Jacobean abstract floral motifs. Both works are inscribed with instructions in his hand.

"The V and A has a long association with William Morris," proclaimed Beth McKillop, Keeper of Collections. "We have wonderful works by him in our collection, but very few of his famous wallpaper designs. It is wonderful to be able to redress this with these original designs."

Half-funded by the Art Fund, the pair will go on permanent display in the New Acquisitions Gallery before being placed alongside tapestries and other works by Morris in the British Galleries.

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