The Victorian artist-craftsman, writer and socialist reformer William Morris created designs that remain popular and commercially available today. He believed that you “should have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.
As a student at Oxford University, Morris began a lifelong friendship with Edward Burne-Jones. Passionate about the idea of reviving medieval art, they went to study with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Morris only completed one oil painting, La Belle Iseult. The model was Jane Burden, who became Morris’ wife. She also became a familiar face in paintings by Rossetti, who fell in love with her.
Inspired by ideals of medieval craftsmanship, Morris set up a decorative arts firm, producing furniture, tapestry, stained glass, furnishing fabrics and wallpapers. Artists including Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown were members of the firm, which became known as Morris & Co. Morris later founded an influential printing company, the Kelmscott Press.