Saturday, 19 July 2014

NPG and William Morris

you may not immediately see the link between William Morris, beardy Victorian socialist, and the 1951 Festival of Britain with its space-age aspirations, but the upcoming exhibition ANARCHY & BEAUTY, opening on 16 October, aims to show you..

Curated by acclaimed author and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, the display features original furniture and textiles designed and owned by Morris as well as the work of his contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. These will be innovatively showcased alongside remarkable books, jewellery, ceramics and clothing by craftspeople such as Eric Gill, Bernard Leach and Terence Conran, demonstrating how Morris’s legacy continued into the twentieth century, influencing radical politics, the Garden City movement and the Festival of Britain in 1951

William Morris by C Fairfax Murray 

and for a comprehensive account of ALL portraits of Morris - paintings, drawings, caricatures, busts, photographs - go to Carol Blackett-Ord's scholarly list of All Known Portraits in the LATER VICTORIAN CATALOGUE on NPG website.  Which links through to all those in the NPG collection and many elsewhere:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Moroccan Ambassadors

Copyright University of Birmingham 

 copyright English Heritage
The fine portraits of the Moroccan ambassadors 
[1] to Elizabeth I : Abd el-Ouahad ben Messaoud, 1600 by unknown artist, now Shakespeare Centre with legend '1600 / Abdul Guahid / Envoy from the Barbary Kingdoms to England / age 42' 
 and [2] to Charles II : Ben Hadou, 1684, by Godfrey Kneller and Jan Wyck (now Chiswick House)  
have been joined by two splendid images of  Georgian envoys

copyright Ben Elwes
copyright Ben Elwes 

 [3] to George I and George II:   Admiral Hajj Abdelkader Perez, with a naval engagement by Michael Dahl;
and [4] to George I :  Mohammed Ben Ali Abgali by Enoch Seeman.

Both painted during their tours of duty in Britain, and both retained by the courtier who was appointed their host/minder/liaison officer.  
It was obviously a tradition  They make one wonder what the sitters and their  entourages thought of the likenesses in Anglo-mode, half-length or three-quarter-length, and whether any copies were made for them to take home.

Here, incidentally, is John Evelyn's eye-witness account of Amb. Hadou's presentation to the Court of St James:

Castle Howard and William Morris

Exhibition alert


This looks a nice display at Castle Howard, with a great portrait sketch of Morris's unruly hair by George Howard aka Earl of Carlisle, and the three-part Illustrious Women screen embroidered by Bessie Burden.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Spitalfields Nippers at Pre-Raphaelite exhibition

The Spitalfieldslife blog by the gentleauthor has publicised a riveting collection of photos taken in 1901-2 by Horace Warner, superintendent of the Bedford Institute, a Quaker mission.   Entitled Spitalfields Nippers, the photos are all of youngsters, in the streets and yards, with one striking group in the newly-opened Whitechapel Art Gallery during the inaugural exhibition of 'Modern Pictures by Living Artists' including the Pre-Raphaelites. This shows five children and a babe-in-arms grouped for the camera in front of several paintings, including two by Burne-Jones - an oil version of the stained glass design of St Luke and a levitating female figure of Hope.    They were presumably loaned by Georgiana, since EBJ died in 1898. One intriguing connection links the photographer with the painter, because Warner's family firm was that of Jeffrey & Co., which printed wallpapers for Morris & Co., in which of course Burne-Jones was an original partner.  Possibly Warner chose to pose his Nippers by Burne-Jones's works because of his connection.

Crowd-sourcing is requested to fund publication of the unique collection.  For more information: 

and another image of Spitalfields kids (the same group I think) among Pre-Raphaelite pictures

with a link to the published volume here