Morris & Company
A Chair

A Chair
Morris & Company (decorators in London from 1861)
A Chair
Model designed circa 1865
Black varnished wood, rush seat
H. 84.5; W. 44.5; D. 41 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Une chaise [A Chair]


The forerunners of the modern style that appeared in Victorian England in the 1860s and 70s revived the values of craftsmanship. William Morris set the example by founding a decorating business in 1861, a production centre which offered the services of an architect, a decorator and a manufacturer. Morris's decisive influence was particularly due to his architectural approach to modern decoration: he firmly believed in the central role of the interior designer in providing the surroundings conducive to a dignified, happy life. In the early years of the firm, architects and painters worked closely together on decorative items and furniture.

The range of Sussex Chairs, to which this chair belongs, used light, rustic models with rush seats, partly derived from French examples from the early nineteenth century.
This model was probably designed by Ford Maddox Brown (1821-1893), a British painter close to the Pre-Raphaelites. He designed no fewer than eight different chairs for Morris & Company.
In 1865, 1868 and 1878, Edward Burne-Jones bought Sussex Chairs for his houses in Kensington and Fulham. Morris himself used some in the living room of Kelmscott House. Popular because they were cheap and light, these simple practical chairs remained in production until the First World War.




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