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Proof of two illustrations from 'A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden': Credit page and 'The Old English Garden'

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

WCA.1.1.1.3.58

Title Proof of two illustrations from 'A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden': Credit page and 'The Old English Garden'
Object type Proof
Artist/maker Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Support Paper
Medium Ink (Printed In Colours)
Dimensions h:276 w:197
Accession number WCA.1.1.1.3.58
Description Folded paper with colour proof on front and reverse. First proof depicts two seated female figures in a garden. The figure in the foreground holds a pen and paper. The figure behind holds a paint brush and book. A pallet and paintbox are on the floor besides her. Each figure wears a head-dress made from foliage. A hedge, row of rose trees and ris' appear behind the figures and tulips feature in the foreground. To the left of the design is a text box with the words 'Set forth in verses & coloured design by Walter Crane. London: At the house of Harper and Brothers: 1899' printed in red ink. The design is contained within a linear border printed in red ink.<br /><br />The second proof features a male figure reclining against a tree. An open book, pallet (with rebus), paintbrushes and paintbox appear in the foreground. In the background is a smaller tree with blossom and a hedge. The image is surrounded by a linear border printed in black ink. To the left of the page is a box containing a title and verse, printed in red and black ink.

The Walter Crane Archive: 'Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden'

Inspiration for this book came during the Summer of 1898, when the Crane family hired an Elizabethan farmhouse from the writer and publisher Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939). The house was furnished with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and a piano built at William Morris's workshop. Crane obviously made himself at home, as the house's next tenant, the writer Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) witnessed the image of a crane painted on the front door.

The immaculately kept lawns and hedges of this Elizabethan famous provided Crane with an ideal setting for his floral fantasy. Crane portrayed himself languishing, painting and contemplating his garden utopia, accompanied by a beautiful, winged figure wearing the red cap of freedom. his reference to the medieval legend of Rosamond's garden places the story within th realm of 'Old England'.

The Walter Crane Archive: 'Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden'

Inspiration for this book came during the Summer of 1898, when the Crane family hired an Elizabethan farmhouse from the writer and publisher Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939). The house was furnished with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and a piano built at William Morris's workshop. Crane obviously made himself at home, as the house's next tenant, the writer Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) witnessed the image of a crane painted on the front door.

The immaculately kept lawns and hedges of this Elizabethan famous provided Crane with an ideal setting for his floral fantasy. Crane portrayed himself languishing, painting and contemplating his garden utopia, accompanied by a beautiful, winged figure wearing the red cap of freedom. his reference to the medieval legend of Rosamond's garden places the story within th realm of 'Old England'.

The Walter Crane Archive: Illustration and Book Design: A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden': Object no. 46305

Crane's coupling of the 'Venus' Looking Glass' and 'Love Lies Bleeding' is reminiscent of the 1845 poem by William Wordsworth (1770-1850); 'Love Lies Bleeding':

'So, sad Flower!
('Tis Fancy guides me willingly to be led,
Though by a slender thread,)
So drooped Adonis bathed in sanguine dew
Of his death-wound, when he from innocent air
The gentlest breath of resignation drew;
While Venus in a passion of despair
Rent, weeping over him, her golden hair.'

Crane may have been influenced by Wordsworth's poem and inspired by Wordsworth's motive for writing it. In the notes to his poem Wordsworth writes:

'Trade, commerce, and manufactures, physical science, and mechanic arts, out of which so much wealth has arisen, have made our countrymen infinitely less sensible to movements of imagination and fancy than were our forefathers in their simple state of society. How touching and beautiful were...the names they gave to our indigenous flowers, or any other they were familiarly acquainted with.'

The poet goes on to suggest that, through the simple action of creatively naming the ever-increasing varieties of botanical specimens within the British countryside, society could take a step towards reclaiming a simplicity of life that would otherwise be lost to industrial expansion. Crane echoes this in his musing on page 5 where he dreams of the lost time of 'an old world garden'.

The Walter Crane Archive: Illustration and Book Design: A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden': Object no.46308

This illustration depicts the author reclining in an English garden, gathering inspiration for his book, 'A Floral Fantasy'. An empty book and set of clean brushes lay at Crane's side, indicating that he has yet to convey his ideas to the page. Crane's rebus is drawn on his pallet, ensuring that the reader is fully aware of who the bearded figure is.

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).