Then Messrs. Jeffrey and Co., who, from the ﬁrst, have produced my wall-paper designs, wanted a block-printed paper, and the result was the “Margarete,” which was. also offered as a wall-decoration, complete in itself, by the addition of a dado of lilies, a frieze of symbolic ﬁgures, and a ceiling.
Wallpaper designed for Jeffrey & Co. Left: The Peacock Garden (wallpaper). Middle: The Meadow (wallpaper). Right: The Margarete (wallpaper). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
A long series of designs has followed, produced by the ﬁrm of Jeffrey and Co., ever since these ﬁrst efforts (about 1875, I think), and naturally they show considerable changes of style in the course of years, coming under the different inﬂuences which have affected the character of one’s work from time to time.
A comparison of the later designs with the early ones shows the use of a more ﬂowing character of line in the general structure of the pattern, and a richer and more redundant detail for the most part, although this is sometimes a matter controlled by the requirements of particular papers—simple or sumptuous. On the whole, one is inclined to return to comparatively simple motives in pattern and colour as more in keeping with the character and purpose of the material and the method of production, but one cannot resist the natural tendency, in the practice of any art, towards growth and evolution—as it were, an almost unconscious impulse, leading one on in the working out of certain ideas of form and line, as if design were, after all, bound to obey the laws of the natural world, the forms of which it sometimes adopts. My essays in textile design have not been so numerous. My ﬁrst were some embroidery designs, and in the early days of the Royal School of Art Needlework I did a good many designs, both figure-work and floral, to be worked there.
My ﬁrst attempt at a pattern for weaving was for a Manchester ﬁrm. It was a woollen curtain heightened with silk, and the design consisted of the moon—Luna in her ship—alternating with stars. This covered the main ﬁeld, upon a blue ground. The border showed an arabesque enclosing ﬁgures of the hours, and in a deep dado-like border at the bottom appeared the chariot of the sun in the circular disc, this repeating in a row in the same way as moon and stars above.
Years afterwards I met with this curtain in a sleeping car of the Southern Paciﬁc on my way from San Francisco to New York.
Left: The British Empire (cotton print manufactured by Edmund Potter and Co., Ltd., Manchester). Right: The Senses Tablecloth. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Another Manchester manufacturer made a bold venture in some designs of mine for printed cottons (dress fabrics) to celebrate the Jubilee year of 1887. There were two designs produced, one of which . . . is a kind of apotheosis of the British Empire expressed in a ﬁgurative sort of way.
Then there is a printed tussore silk produced at Messrs. Wardle and Company’s works, at Leek, from a design of mine, embodying the four seasons and the sun and moon.
Messrs. Templeton have recently produced a carpet design of mine, in Wilton and Brussels, a pattern of daffodils and blue-bells with a border of iris.
A design for a damask table-cloth has been very successfully reproduced by Messrs. John Wilson and Sons. Its theme is the Five Senses, represented by typical ﬁgures in compartments formed by scroll work on the ﬁeld of the cloth, with a border of animalsof the chase. The motto:
May soul with sense united be,
Good cheer and pleasant company;
And if Beauty meet with wit,
The company, though few, is ﬁt.
was in the ﬁrst drawing used on the subsidiary borders, but it was an objection that the words were necessarily reversed in repetition, and so, ultimately, a small repeating leaf-pattern was used instead.
The Work of Walter Crane with Notes by the Artist. The Easter Art Annual for 1898: Extra Number of the “Art Journal”. London: J. S. Virtue, 1898. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Getty Art Institute. Web. 3 January 2018.
Last modified 4 January 2018