Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy by Fiona MacCarthy

Anarchy & beauty: William Morris & his legacy, 1860-1960Anarchy & beauty: William Morris & his legacy, 1860-1960

MacCarthy, Fiona, author; National Portrait Gallery (Great Britain), publisher

William Morris (1834-96) regarded beauty as a basic human birthright. In this fascinating book, which accompanies a major exhibition, Morris’ biographer Fiona MacCarthy looks at how his highly original and generous vision of a new form of society in which art could flourish has reverberated through the decades.

In 1860 Morris moved into the now famous Red House at Bexleyheath in Kent. Here his ideas found practical expression in its decoration, undertaken with the help of his artistcraftsman friends Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Anarchy & Beauty at the National Portrait Gallery is the tie in exhibition which explores the life and ideas of the great Victorian artist, writer and visionary thinker through portraits, personal items and fascinating objects, many of which are on public display for the first time,. This major exhibition illustrates Morris’s concept of ‘art for the people’ and highlights the achievements of those that he inspired.

Curated by acclaimed author and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, the display features original furniture and textiles designed and owned by Morris as well as the work of his contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. These are innovatively showcased alongside remarkable books, jewellery, ceramics and clothing by craftspeople such as Eric Gill, Bernard Leach and Terence Conran, demonstrating how Morris’s legacy continued into the twentieth century, influencing radical politics, the Garden City movement and the Festival of Britain in 1951.



Europeana celebrates 500 years of the printed book

prayerbook500 years ago, the first book was printed and to commemorate this,  Europeana (Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europe’s galleries, museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections) has created a virtual exhibition together with the National Library of Latvia.

“The printed book changed the world by first changing its readers. During the period 500 years ago, the nature of the book was undergoing important changes. With the development of printing technology, books became cheaper, more convenient to read and accessible to a wider audience; books became the messengers of religious and social change.

1514 vividly characterises the age of great change: the end of the Renaissance and the blossoming of humanism, culminating in the Reformation. This virtual exhibition provides you an opportunity to examine the books published in that particular year across Europe, revealing the cultural richness and diversity of the age.

The books can be explored in the English or Latvian exhibition.

The Private Life of Print: the use and abuse of books 1450 – 1550

An ink blot on a 1470 edition of the Historiae Romanae DecadesA  new exhibition at the Cambridge University Library running from 24th October 2014 until 11th April 2015 celebrates the use and abuse of the first western printed books by their owners. More information in this film

On a winter’s day in 1482 a scholar had an embarrassing disaster, see left, leaving a blood-red blot of ink on the pristine page of a valuable book.

He then compounded his crime by confessing, adding a note in the same red ink still legible after 532 years. On the desecrated page of the Historiae Romanae Decades, printed in Venice in 1470, he wrote: “Ita macula” – this stain – “I stupidly made on the first of December 1482.”

The owner of another fabulous volume, the Book of St Albans – a gentleman’s guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting that, in the 1480s, was the first colour printed book in English – did worse adding a little rude drawing to the bottom of a page.

Many of the printed books going on display have hand-painted pictures, or gold leaf decoration, added to make them more beautiful. However, others have been inscribed, scribbled or doodled on by generations of owners, some more illustrious than others.

Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem to celebrate the exhibition