William Morris – Michelle DPosted: May 10, 2011
Arts and Crafts Movement
William Morris (1834-18996) was the founder of the The Arts and Crafts Movement which was started in England and flourished between 1880-1910.
It was most popular in England, but also spread to Europe and North America in reaction to the industrialisation of the time.
The Arts and Crafts movement moved back to traditional craftsmanship often using medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration.
It also proposed economic and social reform. Morris was a major contributor to traditional textile arts and methods of production.
He is well known for his design work in tiles, stained glass and wallpaper. Morris also wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life.
Morris idolized fifteenth century Frenchman Nicolas Jenson. An engraver of coins and medals Jenson studied printing and letter-founding. He was the first to present the form and proportion of the Roman font in 1471. Jenson became a cult figure to Morris and his followers, standing for a world where the printer, binder, and illuminator all worked together as a team.
Morris devoted much of his later life to the Kelmscott Press, which he founded in January 1891, to produce books by traditional methods dating back to Jenson’s time, including the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer published in 1896 (a page pictured top right).
Morris said: “It was the essence of my undertaking to produce books which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of printing and arrangement of type.”
Paper and ink selection as well the dedication to overall integration of type and decoration on the page made the Press one of the most famous private presses of the movement. It closed in 1898.
Morris designed two typefaces based on fifteenth-century models, the Roman Golden type and the black letter Troy type. A third, Chaucer, was a smaller version of the Troy type.
Biographer John William Mackail summed up his career for the Dictionary of National Biography “…it is the quality of design which, together with a certain fluent ease, distinguishes his work in literature as well as in industrial art.”