Morris and Architecture

Authored by: Chris Miele

The Routledge Companion to William Morris

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780415347433
eBook ISBN: 9781315229416
Adobe ISBN:


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William Morris was passionate about architecture, its past, present and future. His youthful engagement with it was intensely romantic, sensual even. Later he came to understand it as a particular expression of the time and place of its making, though without losing that earlier strength of feeling for it. In both respects, he was walking a well-worn path. The Romantic poets and painters of two generations earlier had described architecture in emphatic, emotive terms. And an earlier generation of historians and critics had developed the notion that architecture reflected the spirit of the age, what a later generation of art historians would call the Zeitgeist. John Ruskin combined both ways of seeing, and in that way too provided a model for Morris’ approach. Like A. W. N. Pugin, Morris believed that design had an operative power, that it was part of the solution to what some today call the ‘broken society’. Was Morris anything more, then, than a follower of advanced fashions?

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