William Morris ‘Hammersmith’ Carpet, hand knotted for Morris & Co, designed by John Henry Dearle circa 1890-95
5’7″ x 9’5″
John Henry Dearle and Morris & Co:
We would like to thank the William Morris specialist Linda Perry from The Victoria and Albert Museum, London for identifying the authenticity of this masterwork as one of few surviving carpets woven in the William Morris workshop and designed by John Henry Dearle.
“This directional design Hammersmith rug with overlying formalized clusters of stylized flowers and leaves including blooming lotus flowers, olive green palm trees, heart shaped stems filled with blue-green leafs and red flowers, various shades of beige, blue, green, cream and russet, on a deep blue ground, the border with olive green and beige palms connected with lotus flower vines, in beige, green and gold, on a russet ground, narrow alternating brown and cream narrow border and a blue outer edge
This important, beautiful and extremely rare original rug William Morris ‘Hammersmith’ Carpet, hand knotted for Morris & Co is a closely related small version of the rug which sold at Sotheby’s recently with a world record.
please read bellow for the lot sold at Sotheby’s for reference.
John Henry Dearle and Morris & Co:
“In 1889 William Morris (1834 – 1896), reputedly, created his final carpet design for his firm Morris & Co. The following year John Henry Dearle (1860 – 1932) succeeded as principal designer for all carpets manufactured in Hammersmith and Merton Abbey. Dearle was designer of embroideries with May Morris from 1885 and had also been William’s design assistant, however by his appointment in 1890 he had clearly developed his own style. He recognized the importance of maintaining the link between the company’s founder and its future success, the same had been true in the previous years when May had undertaken the management and design of the embroideries. Yet Dearle was progressive and prepared the company for the shift in the market at the turn of the century; in which the Morris-led Arts and Crafts approach was being overshadowed by the desire for the exotic.
In keeping with Morris’s ideals Dearle’s designs incorporated many of the original, quintessentially British, flora and fauna motifs. He combined the importance of finesse in textile draftsmanship and an understanding, no doubt under Morris’s influence, of the Persian designs of the 16th and 17th centuries, in particular the ‘vase’ design from the Safavid era. These two disciplines allowed more extravagant and complicated patterns which prepared the company for the oncoming 20th century market. This can certainly be seen in the present lot when compared to the William Morris designed carpet made for the Wyndham family in circa 1887. However a certain stylistic symmetry is maintained, perhaps due to his training with embroideries and working with the talented May.
Morris’s impact on Dearle is clearly visible when considering the Wyndham’s ‘Clouds’ carpet with the present lot. Although smaller in size the ‘Hammersmith’ adopts the Morris school of design which can be seen through the use of the chequered tulips, scrolling acanthus, stylized roses, open palmette bulbs and scrolling vinery motifs and the use of colouring. It is the extravagance in the overall design which makes the present lot stand out as a work of Dearle’s and marks an important change in the trajectory for designs produced by the company.”
This fantastic carpet, previously owned by the Barr-Smith family, is likely to have been commissioned by Robert and Joanna Barr-Smith for their house Auchendarroch in Adelaide, South Australia. Previously from Scotland, Robert was the co-owner of a mercantile company of huge success and in 1915 his estate was one of the largest in Australia, sworn for probate to the sum of £1,799,500. The wealthy couple owned seven large houses in the area, all largely furnished by Morris & Co. Joanna, in particular, was an indulgent shopper and regular patron of the company.
A friend of May Morris’s, Joanna is recorded purchasing regularly between 1892-1896. It is possible the Barr-Smiths may have met John Henry Dearle through May. It also is conceivable that the present carpet would have been commissioned between these years. Or indeed there is reference made to the Barr-Smith’s ordering carpets from the Morris firm around the time of the completion of the ‘Bullerswood’ carpet in circa 1889, see Parry, Linda, William Morris Textiles, London, 1983, p. 97. The photograph of Joanna shows her in Auchendarroch surrounded by Morris furnishings, including two carpets depicting similar motifs and borders. A similar carpet of larger scale is in the collection of Standen House NT, Sussex, in the drawing room, and it is illustrated in several published works.
The beautiful carpet offered is a wonderful showcase of the change in demand and progression in 19th and 20th century tastes and an exemplary illustration of the Morris & Co aesthetic.” (Sotheby’s)
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