If you visit France and take a look around any of the museum gift shops, you will see dozens of beautiful tapestries for sale. Most are made in France and all of them are frighteningly expensive.
Luckilly, before I went to Paris I discovered a couple of great tapestry retailers. If you are looking for quality tapestry designs from your home, The Tapestry House is probably the best resource available. They are recommended by the New York Times. If you are looking for reproductions of larger tapestries, such as the Unicorn tapestries, this is the place to go.
Although I love smaller design firms like Charles Rupert, this is definitely the most affordable place to find tapestries and they get their products from the same place that smaller design firms do (from the factories that weave them). Most of their products are made in France and they are identical to the tapestries sold in pricey giftshops. Those tapestries that are not woven in Europe are made in the United States.
If you are on the lookout for smaller tapestries, The Tapestry Standard is another great website. They carry a wide variety of designers–including (of course!) William Morris. They sell a lot of the smaller products that you will find in museum giftshops, such as pillows. Also, if you are interested in modern and casual designs, Tapestry Standard has a multitude of patterns to choose from.
This lovely living room has been decorated using Sanderson’s beautiful floral fabrics. If the designs seem familiar, it’s because their patterns are copied or “adapted” by a number of other design firms. I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Sandersons is one of the oldest and best respected names in interior decorating. The company was established in 1860 as a firm specializing in interior design and decorating. Later, in 1923 Arthur Sanderson & Sons was awarded the Royal Warrant as Purveyors of Wallpapers to the King. In 1955 the company was again awarded the Royal Warrant to supply wallpapers, paints and fabrics to Queen Elizabeth II and the company continues to supply the Queen today.
Sanderson produces a wide variety of decorating materials, but they are best known for their floral wall papers and fabrics. Until recently, Sanderson had an exclusive copyright on William Morris’ wallpaper and textile designs. In fact, Morris and Company’s original designs were purchased by Sanderson some time ago and the Morris and Company website is actually a subsidiary of Sanderson’s parent company, Walker Greenbank. The Morris and Company website is a great resource where you can find everything from decorating fabric to heritage paint colours.
Today you can purchase William Morris’ designs from other companies, but Sanderson’s are still recognized as the best quality. Their fine fabrics are guaranteed to last for years.
images courtesy sanderson-uk.com
Several of you asked about what Jimmy Page’s William Morris tapestry (designed by Edward Burne-Jones and woven at William Morris’ shop) sold for at auction last month. I’ve been checking back at Sotheby’s regularly and it turns out that it didn’t sell.
Although many other items in the auction sold for several times their value, the tapestry failed to sell for its reserve price, and will remain in Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.
Page purchased the tapestry back in 1978 for $80,000 and is only the third person to have owned it. He put it up for auction because the mammoth art piece (it’s 24 feet wide) is too heavy for him to hang on the oak panelings at his new mansion near the Thames. Perhaps he will be lending it to a museum since he can’t display it at home.
For more info, check out the Guardian’s report.
If you’d like to see what the other items in the auction sold for, you can take a look at Sotheby’s website. You’ll need an account, but it’s worth signing up just to look at all the beautiful artwork they have!
Edward Burne Jones’ Holy Grail Tapestry (discussed in yesterday’s post) is set to go to auction this evening. It’s presence at the auction has caused quite a stir, and fans of William Morris’ art have decided to use the recent media publicity that the auction has generated in order to give attention to the plight of the William Morris gallery.
The BBC reports that today as the Morris and Company tapestry goes to auction at Sothebys for £1 m pounds, a petition containing 11,000-signatures will be presented to the Waltham Forest Council, asking them to increase opening hours and hire more staff.
William Morris was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, known for his writing as well as his contributions to the art world. The museum and gallery is located at Walthamstow in what was Morris’s family home from 1848 to 1856. The museum has been open since 1950 and contains £60 m worth of his work.
Unfortunately, the museum’s hours have been drastically reduced in recent months, and the museums long time curator was sacked by the Waltham City Council because they felt it wasn’t worth paying the money to keep him. I can understand why people in North America might not fully appreciate William Morris’ contributions to the art world, but it seems hard to believe that the city council in Waltham–where Morris grew up, can’t grasp the importance to keeping a museum dedicated to his work. I certainly hope that the petitioners are successful. I signed the online petition a couple of months ago.
In closing, I would like to extend my apologies to anyone who was trying to access my blog this morning! I was trying to switch over to publishing on a custom domain, but it didn’t exactly work. I think I actually did it correctly, but it takes a day or two to update the DNS, and I really don’t want to have to wait that long. I’ve learned my lesson…do stuff like that at night!
It turns out that gifted Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has a thing for Pre-Raphaelite art! I read the news on Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood yesterday and decided to do some more research into Jimmy Page’s art collection.
I can’t say that I’m that surprised…if you’ve ever listened to Led Zeppelin’s music, you’ve probably noticed that the band was heavily inspired by Medieval/fantasy themes. Lead singer Robert Plant’s favorite book was the Lord of the Rings and it’s evident in their music. A number of their songs reference material from Lord of the Rings, including “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Battle of Evermore,” and “Ramble On”, with “Ramble On” being the most explicit.
Jimmy Page has stepped beyond admiration for the medieval and has become an avid collector of Pre-Raphaelite art (including at least one painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti). All of this has come into the news in the last couple of days as Page plans to auction one of the tapestries in his collection at Sothebys–the final scene from Edward Burne Jones’ Holy Grail Tapestry (pictured above).
The piece is expected to fetch around $2 million at auction. It was originally designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and woven by Morris and Company’s tapestry weavers. It took three weavers a full two years to complete. **edit**I guess it depends on who you ask. The New York Times reports that the 24 foot wide tapestry actually took eight men two years.
According to Page’s art dealer-to-the-stars, Paul Reeves, (who has many hats, it appears–he also designed clothing for the Rolling Stones and Beatles, but has been a full time art dealer since 1976) Page is forced to sell because the wood panels on his Thames Mansion are too weak to support the tapestry. It seems more likely that he is in financial trouble, since he also plans to sell a gigantic set of Arthurian round table and chairs, and two sideboards at the same auction.