Edward Burne-Jones (designer) (English, 1833–1898); John Henry Dearle (designer) (English, 1860–1932); Merton Abbey Tapestry Works (English, founded 1881)
Merton, Surrey, England
Wool and silk weft on cotton warp (15 warps per in.)
91 3/8 x 79 1/2 in. (232 x 202 cm)
Rogers Fund, 2008 (2008.8)
This marvelously preserved tapestry representing two angels playing on harps of gold against a rich floral ground is an exemplary demonstration of the character and style of the tapestries made at the Merton Abbey Tapestry Works under the direction of William Morris. Morris founded the workshop at Merton, in Surrey, near London, in 1881 as part of his vision to use the integrity of medieval craftsmanship to revitalize the art and design of industrial Britain. These angelic figures were first conceived in 1878 for a stained-glass window for Salisbury Cathedral by Edward Burne-Jones, Morris's lifelong friend and collaborator. In 1894, the figures and those in another window design provided the inspiration for two new tapestry cartoons painted by John Henry Dearle, the principal weaver and designer at the tapestry works. Dearle enhanced the linear emphasis and patterning of Burne-Jones's figures by placing them on a millefleur ground inspired by medieval tapestries. This tapestry is the second weaving of the design. It was commissioned by Major Charles Sydney Goldman as a stand-alone panel, possibly in anticipation of his impending marriage.