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‘Daisy’ wallpaper designed by William Morris

Registered by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co on 1 February 1864. BT 43/99/171341. ‘Daisy’ was the first wallpaper designed by William Morris to be put into production. Morris, like the Pre-Raphaelite painters with whom he set up Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, shared Pugin’s passion for medieval art, culture and design, as well as his belief in the intrinsic value of hand craftsmanship and dislike of contemporary British design. ‘Daisy’, formed of stylised floral motifs, is thought to have been inspired by an illustration in a fifteenth-century version of Froissart’s Chronicles, shown in an illuminated manuscript at the British Museum. By the 1870s Morris’s wallpapers were often regarded as key elements of an Aesthetic interior.

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‘Peacock’ wallpaper dado designed by E W Godwin

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 18 February 1873. BT 43/100/270551

E W Godwin helped to popularise the Anglo-Japanese style, one of the defining characteristics of the Aesthetic movement. He introduced one of the movement’s most popular symbols, the peacock, shown here in the highly stylised form of a Japanese crest or mon. The diagonal ‘H’ pattern in the background was also derived from Japanese ornament. This formal peacock design was intended for use as a dado, with another of his designs, ‘Bamboo’, an informal, asymmetrical design, as the filling, or main section of wallpaper. The three-part division of walls into a dado, filling and frieze became a distinctive feature of Aesthetic design.

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‘The Sleeping Beauty’ wallpaper designed by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 21 August 1879. BT 43/103/338553

Well-known as an illustrator of children’s books, Walter Crane designed a number of nursery wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co, including The Sleeping Beauty. Like William Morris, Crane believed that the decorative arts had symbolic potential. Morna O’Neill (2010) has discussed the way in which Crane returned to the theme of The Sleeping Beauty throughout his career. For example, in an essay of 1892 he refers to ‘the sense of beauty’ who, ‘like the enchanted princess in the wood, seems liable, both in communities and individuals, to periods of hypnotism’.

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Woven silk fabric registered by William Fry & Co on 20 December 1876

BT 43/414/306159. This textile design was sold as a roller-printed cotton by Liberty’s department store in Regent Street, a key force in popularising the Aesthetic style, from the late 1880s onwards. It was revived in 1975 and is still used in a range of artefacts by the store under the name Hera. However, the design represents something of a mystery. It is usually attributed to Arthur Silver at the Silver Studio, but the sample at The National Archives was registered in 1876, several years before the Silver Studio was established in 1880, calling this attribution into question.

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‘Indian’ wallpaper designed by Christopher Dresser

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 28 May 1879. Christopher Dresser was a prolific designer, working across most areas of the decorative arts. He wrote a number of influential works on design and design theory, but unlike proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement embraced mass production. Like Pugin and other designer reformers, Dresser believed in using nature as the basis of ornament. Trained as a botanist, he pioneered the concept of ‘artistic botany’, contributing a plate to his former tutor Owen Jones’ book The Grammar of Ornament. Like Jones, Dresser believed that representations of nature should be ‘conventionalised’ rather than naturalistic, as shown in this design featuring stylised cornflowers.

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Endpapers, The Good Housekeeping Institute's 'Book of Good Housekeeping'

London and Chesham: Gramol Publications Ltd., 1946 (1944, 1945)

From a curvilinear modern house with horizontal fenestration to a thatched farmhouse via a suburban detached house, and an Arts and Crafts style manor house, the endpapers for this advice book (and the book’s plates and line drawings) provide a synchronic representation of architectural heterogeneity, illustrating the variety of what home could be in 1946, and implying, therefore, address to a broad readership. 

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‘Vulgarity’, Portrait by John Deakin, jugs photographed by Elsie Collins

Image in Alan Jarvis, The Things We See No. 1 Indoors and Out, West Drayton, Middlesex: Penguin, 1946, 47. Permission, Design Council / University of Brighton Design Archives. CC-BY.

Jarvis shows how visual rhetoric can communicate class and gender norms. He contributes to a tradition of teaching consumers to distinguish between good and bad, which extends back to nineteenth-century design reform, for example Augustus Welby Pugin’s True Principles (1841). Jarvis wrote ‘…by vulgarity we mean just this kind of coarseness of body, cheapness of ornament, and insensitive application of make-up. The parallel in the case of pottery is exact, in its florid shape and crude cosmetic decoration’. 

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Stephen J. Voorhies, ‘An Ideal Kitchen Arrangement’

Fig. 137 in Emily Post The Personality of a House, fourth edition 1948 [1930], New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, p. 398. 

In her discussion of ‘Today’s Kitchen’, leading US etiquette writer Emily Post was influenced by Christine Frederick’s application of Scientific Management to homemaking, and an emphasis on designing domestic spaces with a view to ‘saving steps’ (See, for example ‘Efficient grouping of kitchen equipment’ (Scientific Management in the Home, London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1920 p. 22)

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‘Although your elders’ love for you amounts to adoration, a scene like this would be improved by greater moderation’

Illustration by Charles Malcolm Allen in Betty Allen and Mitchell Pirie Briggs, If You Please: A Book of Manners for Young Moderns, rev. ed., J. B. Lippincott Company, [1942] 1950, p. 194.

Allen and Briggs’s books exemplify a tendency to show in the illustrations what is censured by the text. Scenes of teenagers having fun—listening to loud music, socialising without permission—carry disapproving captions. However, these depictions of censured activity might provide scenarios of identification for young people in a manner unplanned by authors and possibly even illustrators in the absence of an authorial voice for that group in post-war advice books.

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Cover, Illustration by Esme, 'The Creda Housecraft Manual'

Stoke-on-Trent: Simplex Electric Co. and London: Odhams, 1958. Permission IPC Media, a Time Inc. Company. CC-BY-NC-ND.

Publisher Odhams Press used the same visual identity across genres and decades when it repurposed cover designs by illustrator Esme (Florence Olive Esme Eve) from The Woman Week-End Book numbers 1 and 2 (1949) for the Creda Housecraft Manual (1958). While the Woman Week-End Books are entertaining selections of short stories, and tips on beauty, housewifery, personal problems, cookery, knitting, and useful things to make’, the Creda Housecraft Manual promotes a household appliance brand forming an example therefore of the ‘advertising cookbooks’ genre.

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