William Morris Wallpaper Design Formal Analysis

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Arts and Crafts Movement, Design Pages: 3 (934 words) Published: March 17, 2014
The Arts and Crafts Movement began in the last decades of the 19th century. It was developed by the ideas and views of William Morris who was inspired by John Ruskin. William Morris was a dynamic and multi-talented man. His name is “indissolubly linked to wallpaper design” (William Morris & Wallpaper Design, [sa]). All his designs were made by hand and not machines because Morris believed that “the tastelessness of mass-produced goods and the lack of honest craftsmanship might be addressed by a reunion of art with craft” (Meggs and Purvis 1998:179).


Figure 1 William Morris (designer), “Pimpernel” Floral Design Acrylic Cut Out, 1876.

The “Pimpernel” wallpaper was designed by William Morris in 1876. It is assumed to be one of Morris’ personal favourite designs as it hung in the dining room at the Kelmscott House (William Morris Pimpernel (1876) wallpaper [sa]). This classic design of Morris is of a “floral trellis with circular shapes and a strong symmetrical pattern with the leaves” (Morris Archive Wallpapers [sa]). The following analysis of the “Pimpernel” wallpaper design deal with the elements of design in order to highlight the principles of design used and how this relates to the aims of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

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Figure 2 William Morris (designer), “Pimpernel” wallpaper design, Art History 113 [sa].

In this wallpaper design by William Morris, it shows the stems and leaves creating a circular pattern. The circles are interlocking with one another. The larger leaves seem to be following the stems in this circular pattern. A circular rhythm is created by the repetition of the circles. This repetition and pattern creates movement across the picture frame. In addition, the larger leaves create a vertical and horizontal grid. This grid serves to unify the design with the pattern and rhythm that is created. Hence, William Morris creates a...
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