Opera del Caso #3

Floral pattern. Evenlode chintz (ca. 1883) Design by William Morris
La Belle Iseult 1858 Oil on canvas( 718 x 502 mm), William Morris

[image credit: Lessing Photo Archive]

La Belle Iseult 1858 Oil on canvas; 718 x 502 mm The inspiration for this painting was Thomas Malory‘s ‘Morte d’Arthur’ (1485), in which Guinevere’s adulterous love for Sir Lancelot is one of the central themes. The model is Jane Burden who became Morris’s wife in 1859, and also appears in Rossetti‘s ‘Proserpine’ displayed nearby. She was ‘discovered’ by Morris and Rossetti when they were working together on the Oxford Union murals, the subject matter for which was also taken from Malory. The painting is essentially a portrait of her in medieval dress. It is a splendid expresion of the intense medieval style prevailing in Rossetti’s circle in the late 1850s, with its emphasis on pattern and historical detail. This is Morris’s only completed oil painting. N04999
Tate Gallery, London, Great Britain
William Morris (1834-96), met Burne-Jones when at Exeter College, Oxford. He then studied architecture under Street, but abandoned it to become a painter under the influence of Rossetti. In 1861 he founded the firm of Morris and Co.,to produce wall-papers, furniture, tapestries, and stained-glass windows (many designed by Burne-Jones), carpets sand furnishing materials in a style entirely different from that of contemporary Victorian decoration, but one which, nevertheless, tended towards a different kind of horror vacul and the use of equally dark and heavy colors. He is particularly important for the development of the private press, and did much with his Kelmscott Press, founded in 1890, to raise the standards of book design and printing, although he favoured a revival of medieval black-letter where Lucien Pissaro’s Eragny Press (1896) concentrated on modern type faces. His poems and other writings are anti-industrial and support a socialist theory for the regeneration of man by handicraft. There are drawing and a painting in the Tate and V & A, London, the latter also having a room entirely decorated with Morris products.
[taken from The Dictionary of Art and Artists, by Peter and Linda Murray,Penguin,1959]

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