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The Orange Tree

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

1902

W.1967.581.1

Title The Orange Tree
Object type Wallpaper
Place of origin London, England, UK
Date 1902
Artist/maker Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Techniques Wood Block Printing (Colour)
Accession Lot The Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd (gift, 1967)
Accession number W.1967.581.1

Collection Exhibitions : Patterned Papers: Production and Preservation : Object Label : W.1967.581 & W.1967.584

Conserved 1986.

Designed as a pair by the artist Walter Crane, these wallpapers were hand-printed with woodblocks in distemper by Jeffrey & Co, a London firm well-known for the high quality of its products.

The gift of Orange Tree and Fruit presented the Whitworth with the task not only of conserving them but also with the problem of devising a mounting and framing solution which would enable their display as originally intended.

These fragments had not previously been used in a decorative scheme but, nevertheless, had suffered considerable damage as a result of careless handling and general neglect.

Fruit was distorted and curled (fig 1), there was heavy vertical creasing, and areas were missing (fig 2). This damage had occurred as a result of stresses imposed by tight storage on a narrow cardboard tube and crushing caused by overstacking. Orange Tree showed severe paper and pigment losses where exposed edges had become ragged and torn. Both papers were covered in surface dust and dirt (figs 3 & 4).

After the removal of surface soiling by dry cleaning both wallpapers are brighter and fresher, loose pigment and paper fragments have been secured, and the fragile Fruit has been given a supporting acid-free paper lining. Conservation treatment complete, the papers have been mounted and framed in such a way as to show how they would have worked together on a wall.

Outsize samples such as these frequently require permanent framing to ensure their safety from damage.

Fig 1 Fruit, before treatment
Fig 2 Fruit, damage owing to poor storage
Fig 3 Orange Tree, initial examination
Fig 4 Orange Tree, damage to exposed edges (detail)

Collection Exhibitions : Patterned Papers: Production and Preservation : Object Label : W.1967.581 & W.1967.584

Conserved 1986.

Designed as a pair by the artist Walter Crane, these wallpapers were hand-printed with woodblocks in distemper by Jeffrey & Co, a London firm well-known for the high quality of its products.

The gift of Orange Tree and Fruit presented the Whitworth with the task not only of conserving them but also with the problem of devising a mounting and framing solution which would enable their display as originally intended.

These fragments had not previously been used in a decorative scheme but, nevertheless, had suffered considerable damage as a result of careless handling and general neglect.

Fruit was distorted and curled (fig 1), there was heavy vertical creasing, and areas were missing (fig 2). This damage had occurred as a result of stresses imposed by tight storage on a narrow cardboard tube and crushing caused by overstacking. Orange Tree showed severe paper and pigment losses where exposed edges had become ragged and torn. Both papers were covered in surface dust and dirt (figs 3 & 4).

After the removal of surface soiling by dry cleaning both wallpapers are brighter and fresher, loose pigment and paper fragments have been secured, and the fragile Fruit has been given a supporting acid-free paper lining. Conservation treatment complete, the papers have been mounted and framed in such a way as to show how they would have worked together on a wall.

Outsize samples such as these frequently require permanent framing to ensure their safety from damage.

Fig 1 Fruit, before treatment
Fig 2 Fruit, damage owing to poor storage
Fig 3 Orange Tree, initial examination
Fig 4 Orange Tree, damage to exposed edges (detail)

Exhibition: Art and Labour's Cause is One: Object Label:W.1967.581.1

Crane contributed the original drawings for the Orange Tree with Fruit frieze to the 1903 exhibition of the Northern Art Workers’ Guild. He had supported the establishment of the guild in 1895 to encourage “local designers and craftsmen to a fuller realization of the possibilities of their craft.” They held their first exhibition in 1898, and they staged a third, and probably final, exhibition in 1911.

People's Choice: W.1967.581.1

The Orange Tree wallpaper and Fruit frieze were designed as a pair by Walter Crane. The orange tree is a recurring motif throughout Crane’s art and one that seems to encode political meaning: the hope of return to an Edenic idyll. Crane followed some contemporaries in the belief that the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the Garden of Eden was an orange tree, rather than an apple tree.

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

Born in Liverpool, Crane is best known as a prolific designer and book illustrator. In 1871 after his marriage he spent two years in Italy. He was a member of the Royal Institute from 1882 to 1886 but resigned inorder to become a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1889. In later life Crane was a committed Socialist and follower of William Morris.Walter Crane is well known for his accomplishments in illustration, painting and design. At the age of 13, he became the apprentice of the wood-engraver William James Linton, after which time he became a nursery-book illustrator. Crane drew subjects from his book illustrations for his designs. These complicated patterns often included the motifs of figures, animals and birds. Crane designed wallpapers for Jeffery and Co. between 1874 and 1912. His textile designs were produced by companies such as Liberty, Wardle and Co., Birch, Gibson & Co., and John Wilson. Crane was well-connected in the art world in Great Britain and abroad. He knew William Morris and designed a tapestry for Morris & Co. He attended meeting of The Fifteen from 1882, which later merged with the students of Norman Shaw to become the Art Workers' Guild in 1888. In 1888, Crane became the Master of Guild as well as the President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, of which he was a founder member, and through which he regularly exhibited. Crane also became the Director of Design at Manchester Municipal College in 1893 and the Principal of the Royal College of Art in 1898. In addition to extensive lecturing, Crane wrote books about design theory such as The Bases of Design (1898) and Line and Form (1900).