Woodpecker Tapestry

Contributed by William Morris Gallery

The Woodpecker tapestry was designed entirely by William Morris and depicts a bird and a woodpecker sitting in a tree garlanded with flowers and swirling leaves. The subject is taken from the Latin poet Ovid's Metamorphoses and refers to the legend of Picus, one of the ancient kings of Italy, who refused to be seduced by Circe and in revenge was turned into a woodpecker. Morris composed the verse used in the design. At the top and the bottom the Gothic script reads: 'I once a king and chief, now am the tree barks thief, /ever twixt trunk and leaf chasing the prey.' The tapestry was woven at Merton Abbey under Morris' supervision. It was originally hung in the billiard room of 24 Bedford Square, Bloomsbury and is now on display at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow.

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