Animals of the forest

Study of a hare, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 87 by 57 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a hare, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 87 by 57 cm. ©Dreweatts

The four drawings shown here were made by Philip Webb (1831-1915), the Arts & Crafts architect and designer, as studies for a tapestry entitled The Forest which was woven by Morris & Co in 1887.

The Forest, tapestry, woven wool and silk on a cotton warp, designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and John Henry Dearle, woven at Merton Abbey by William Knight, John Martin and William Sleath, 1887, 121.9 by 452 cm. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London, purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

The Forest, tapestry, woven wool and silk on a cotton warp, designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and John Henry Dearle, woven at Merton Abbey by William Knight, John Martin and William Sleath, 1887, 121.9 by 452 cm. ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London, purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

The finished tapestry is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The National Trust is now trying, with the V&A’s blessing, to raise the funds to purchase these drawings for the Arts & Crafts collection at Wightwick Manor.

Study of a fox, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 89 by 58 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a fox, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 89 by 58 cm. ©Dreweatts

Philip Webb was one of the leading architects and designers of the 19th century. He worked in fruitful collaboration with his friend and business partner William Morris (1834-1896).

Study of a lion, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 85 by 72 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a lion, by Philip Webb, c. 1887, pencil and watercolour on paper, 85 by 72 cm. ©Dreweatts

Webb designed Morris’s first house, Red House in Bexleyheath. He also designed wallpaper, stained glass, textiles and furniture for Morris’s decorating company, Morris, Marshall & Faulkner, later Morris & Co.

Detail of the Trellis wallpaper design conceived by William Morris and incorporating birds drawn by Philip Webb. ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Gibson

Detail of the Trellis wallpaper design conceived by William Morris and incorporating birds drawn by Philip Webb. ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Gibson

In 1896 the four animal drawings were acquired by Laurence W. Hodson (1864-1933), a Wolverhampton industrialist and philanthropist who lived at Compton Hall, one mile from Wightwick Manor. Wightwick was donated to the National Trust by Sir Geoffrey Mander (1882-1962) and his second wife Rosalie Glynn Grylls, Lady Mander (1905-1988), in 1937. Ever since the Mander family and the National Trust have worked together to develop the collection of Arts & Crafts and Pre-Raphaelite art and design in the house.

Study of a raven, by Philip Webb, pencil and watercolour on paper, c. 1887, 66 by 49.5 cm. ©Dreweatts

Study of a raven, by Philip Webb, pencil and watercolour on paper, c. 1887, 66 by 49.5 cm. ©Dreweatts

We are trying to raise about £192,000 to acquire this set of four drawings. Any donations made through our Just Giving page, whether large or small, will be hugely appreciated.

9 Responses to “Animals of the forest”

  1. Katharine Hope Says:

    Charming….

  2. Andrew Says:

    Fantastic. Good luck.

    The Hare reminds me of the Dürer watercolour – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Hare

    There were some fantastic William Morris tapestries at the Two Temple Place exhibition last year. For example,

    William Morris exhibition at Two Temple Place

    Must get to the reopened William Morris Gallery in Waltham Forest, one of the finalists for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013!

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks. And thanks for those interesting links, Andrew. Yes I wonder whether Webb was directly inspired by Dürer’s hare – it would seem likely.

  4. Mark D. Ruffner Says:

    I’ve long been an admirer of William Morris and have collected a number of books about him. And leafing through them, I realize how important Webb and Dearle were to Morris’ enduring reputation.

  5. deana Says:

    Honestly, I wish I could work for the NT and spend my days spouting love for all the wonders of the collections –– it would be heaven. Brilliant to show lesser known influences on well known artists and craftsmen. Webb is brilliant.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mark, yes theirs is a great example of the benefits of artistic partnership, isn’t it?

    But, Deana, you are already doing just that by leaving your very much appreciated comments :) And yes this is a fun bit of my job, but only a small bit I’m afraid, with lots of other more humdrum things to do as well.

  7. artdoesmatter Says:

    Having traveled this weekend to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at D.C.’s National Gallery before to moves off to the Pushkin in Moscow, I found the William Morris textiles even more vibrant in-person than the years of looking at reproductions in print. Seeing these wonderful drawings of Philip Webb in your post made me recall a piece in this show, “The Backgammon Players’ Cabinet” that Webb collaborated on with Burne-Jones. Truly amazing to read your post and see just how much of Webb’s influence was part of this stunning piece of furniture.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes there is something about seeing objects ‘in the flesh’ that no image however excellent can capture. And yes those collaborations are really inspiring aren’t they?

  9. Andrew Says:

    I was very sad to have missed the Pre-Raphaelite show when it was at the Tate earlier this year. So much to do, so little time.

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