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Design for National Emblems (England, Scotland and Ireland)

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

WCA.1.8.85

Title Design for National Emblems (England, Scotland and Ireland)
Object type Designs
Artist/maker Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Support Paper
Medium Pen And Ink (Black)
Dimensions h:328 w:205
Accession number WCA.1.8.85
Description With notes in pen and annotations in pencil.

Exhibition: Art and Labour's Cause is One: Object Label:WCA.1.8.107 & WCA.1.8.85

In the “Language of Line”, Crane outlines the potential of national symbols to convey meaning. The lines that comprise the thistle in these designs, for example, reveal a narrative of agricultural labour: corn, the sickle to cut it, the sun which ripens it and the world it feeds, all supported by Labour, which is served by the plough. It might seem unusual for an avowed socialist to produce such nationalistic designs. In the late nineteenth century, however, socialism and nationalism were not mutually exclusive. Many socialists claimed that their critique of the capitalist system in Britain stemmed from a deeply felt nationalism.

Exhibition: Art and Labour's Cause is One: Object Label:WCA.1.8.107 & WCA.1.8.85

In the “Language of Line”, Crane outlines the potential of national symbols to convey meaning. The lines that comprise the thistle in these designs, for example, reveal a narrative of agricultural labour: corn, the sickle to cut it, the sun which ripens it and the world it feeds, all supported by Labour, which is served by the plough. It might seem unusual for an avowed socialist to produce such nationalistic designs. In the late nineteenth century, however, socialism and nationalism were not mutually exclusive. Many socialists claimed that their critique of the capitalist system in Britain stemmed from a deeply felt nationalism.

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

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).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.