Posted on : May 9th, 2019
It’s May which means Spring has come and is almost gone in Chico! Well, not really but, certainly, the almond bloom season is done. But I do love bloom season and there are plenty of birds singing outside my window right now. So that brought to mind this famous wallpaper design by Walter Crane called “Almond Blossom and Swallow.”
Wouldn’t this look wonderful in the dining room of an old farmhouse? Walter Crane is famous for his children’s book illustrations, but as an Arts and Crafts era designer, he also was responsible for some of the most well-known Victorian wallpaper designs. Many are still used today.
Today we typically don’t know the names of wallpaper designers. But in 1870, decorative wallpaper was such a craze that well-known artists sometimes jumped into the fray. Crane’s design work received awards for excellence and “chastity of design” (what does that mean anymore?). They were considered works of art in their own right, not just an ordinary wall-covering.
Walter Crane was a man of deep principles. He actually believed his illustration and design work was a way to uplift the common man by enabling just about anybody to have art in their own home whether they were wealthy enough to buy an original painting or not. He was quite prolific and respected, making him extremely influential in his time. But he became quite controversial for doing art in support of the Socialist movement. When he spoke out in favor of the anarchists accused of being responsible for the Labor Movement bombing that let to the Haymarket Riots, his career was almost ruined. He apologized in the press, explaining that he was not in favor of explosives but that he believed the ones accused were innocent.
Crane’s career recovered at least somewhat. He went on to create a series of famous murals to support the work of social reformers. Several were used to decorate Red Cross Hall in Suffolk, England and showed ordinary people who became heroes and heroines, some who lost their lives, to serve others.
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