24 Jul 2017
August 20, 2012 - Filed under: Arts and Crafts Furniture — Harriet

The William Morris Gallery in London has reopened following a £5m overhaul, allowing many previously unseen masterpieces to go on display for the first time – including a Victorian dining chair by acclaimed Arts & Crafts furniture designer Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo.

The Grade II listed Georgian mansion housing the gallery was actually William Morris’ family home from 1848 to 1856 and is the only public museum dedicated to him. Located in Walthamstow, East London, and owned and maintained by Waltham Forest Council, it reopened in early August 2012. The opening followed an ambitious one year refurbishment project aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and numerous other sponsors. A new extension, with a special exhibition area and extra storage space, was built on the site of the old East Wing demolished in the 1900s, while the 12 galleries (three of them new), have enabled almost 600 exhibits to go on display. They include rare textiles, wallpapers, metalwork, stained glass, books, tiles, furniture and artworks.

The museum covers all aspects of Morris’ work, including the influence he had on others, so as well as his own designs, there are decorative works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Phillip Webb and Ford Maddox Brown. Among the Victorian dining chairs , Lancashire visitors can see a rare fretwork example by A.H. Mackmurdo, featuring a sinuous floral pattern which paved the way for Art Nouveau design.

Collectors of Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts furniture will find plenty of choice by visiting an antiques dealer in Preston. Look for Victorian balloon backed dining chairs reupholstered in Morris fabric, which is still produced today to his original designs.

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