|William Morris by George Frederic Watts 1870|
Morris's first wallpaper design was Trellis, a pattern suggested by the rose-trellis in the garden of his house in Bexleyheath, Kent.
|Trellis wallpaper 1864|
|Daisy wallpaper 1864|
|Fruit wallpaper 1866|
Morris designed over 50 wallpapers, and his firm produced a further 49 by other designers. Despite his involvement with wallpapers and his decided views on their design and use, Morris always regarded wallpaper as a 'makeshift' decoration, a tolerable substitute for more luxurious wall coverings. Some of the old snobbery about wallpaper as an imitative material, a cheap option, still persisted, and Morris, as a wealthy man, preferred woven textile hangings for his own home. Helena Maria Sickert described the drawing room at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, thus: 'beautiful blue tapestry hangings all around the big living room ... the atmosphere was deliciously homely'.
Though Morris himself made little use of wallpapers in his own domestic surroundings, a number of wealthy clients commissioned decorative schemes from Morris & Co. By the 1880s Morris papers were being recommended in many home decorating guides, including the affordable Art at Home series (1876-8). Pages of each were devoted to a discussion of wallpapers, with advice on how to select the best of the latest styles. Morris's papers were too expensive for most, but by the 1880s their growing appeal had been recognised by other designers and manufacturers who began to produce cheaper papers in the Morris style. By the late 1890s Morris wallpapers were commonly found in 'artistic' middle-class homes.
Morris designs seem to have satisfied a widespread desire for pattern in a way which the more formal and didactic designs of the reformers such as Jones and Pugin never did. The next generation of designers were conscious of working with Morris's legacy. For example, Charles Voysey, later described by Essex & Co. in advertisements as 'the Genius of Pattern', produced designs which show clear evidence of Morris's influence in the mastery of flat but complex patterns and in the preference for stylised organic forms and motifs from nature.
|Acanthus wallpaper 1875|
|Bird & Pomegranate wallpaper late C19th|
|Blackthorn wallpaper late C19th|
|Borage ceiling paper 1888-9|
|Compton wallpaper late C19th|
|Corncockle furnishing fabric 1883|
|Cray furnishing fabric 1885|
|Daffodil wallpaper late C19th|
|Isaphan furnishing fabric late C19th|
|Pink & Rose wallpaper late C19th|
|The Strawberry Thief textile|
|Wandle wallpaper 1883-4|
|Wallpaper design 1896|
|Jasmine wallpaper 1872|
|Wey printed textile design c1883|
|Snakeshead printed textile design 1876|
|Peacock and Dragon fabric 1878|
|Woodpecker tapestry 1885|
|Artichoke embroidery 1890|