No, before you ask, I've never been to William Morris' Red House.
This is a very early cartoon from my sketchbook which was inspired by a photo of a woman on the lawn with a black cat who lives at Red House. Because I have two black cats, I joked I had teleported and that William Morris' ghost told me to get off his lawn. My friend Cara told me I should make a cartoon of it-- and here is one of the very first Pre-Raph cartoons I ever did.
Despite frequent invitations to visit from my friend Coleen (she and her family don't live very far from Red House), I just don't have the funds, shall we say, to go pretty much anywhere right now...
Oh, but I will go there someday soon, rest assured! Yes, I will.
Ned Burne-Jones called Red House "the beautifullest place on earth." Here is the link for the National Trust's visitor information: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/redhouse/ (with lots of pretty pictures.)
|Yes, it does look something like a very big hobbit would live in...|
Red House was meant to be a medieval antidote to fussy Victorian homes and was completed in 1860. It was designed by William Morris and his friend, architect Philip Webb and Morris hoped it would house a community of artists and craftsmen. Morris had actually hoped his best friend Edward Burne-Jones and his family would move into a proposed annexed area but this was never realized due to the tragic death of Ned and his wife Georgie's newborn son Christopher. Nevertheless, Ned contributed stained glass designs and murals and he and his family were frequent guests.
Morris determined that the place where his house was to be built should have fruit orchards and gardens. It was built of deep red brick (hence the name) and designed so very few trees would need to be cut down for its construction.
Here are some lovely photos of its interior which contributed to the early stages of Morris' reknowned career as a designer: http://wmmorrisfanclub.blogspot.com/2010/07/red-house-hallwayswelcome.html
In the too brief time that Morris and his family lived at Red House, it was a popular place for festivities and William's generous visits to the wine cellar. There were snowball fights in winter and games of hide-and-seek indoors and on the grounds. Many of Morris' neighbors at the time weren't kindly disposed to the eccentric groups of artists and other creative types who (shockingly) had tea parties on Sunday. Here Dante Gabriel Rossetti first began his fascination with Morris' wife, the former Jane Burden.
Oh, and here is the black cat, Oscar, who inspired this cartoon. Grace Nuth talks about him here on The Beautiful Necessity blog:
|Oscar the Cat who lives at|
the Beautifullest Place on Earth.
Next: Ford Madox Brown meets a young admirer.