A leading British designer, illustrator, and painter, Crane was a prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement and influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters. He travelled and exhibited widely in Europe and the United States of America and was also a significant and influential writer and lecturer on design matters, a socialist thinker and propogandist, as well as an important force in progressive design education, having been appointed as principal of the Royal College of Art, London, in 1898. After an early apprenticeship in wood engraving Crane steadily built up a reputation as an illustrator in the 1860s. By the early 1870s his work showed the influence of Japanese woodblock prints alongside an increasing mastery of colour, particularly in a number of successful children's books. During these years he also worked on decorative ceramic designs for Josiah Wedgwood (1867-71), on tiles for Maws (1874), and, later, on various ceramic commissions for Pilkington's Tile and Pottery Company (from 1901). Furthermore, Crane was a prolific wallpaper designer, producing more than 50 designs for Jeffrey & Co. from 1874 onwards, and also worked in the field of printed and woven textiles from the late 1880s. Other fields in which Crane made contributions included stained glass and mosaic design, furniture, metalwork, carpet design, and embroidery. In 1884 he became a founder member of the Art Workers' Guild, going on to become the first president of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888 when a number of members of the Guild seceded in order to set up a new organization more committed to the public promotion and exhibition of their creative work. Crane played an important role in British design education, becoming head of design at Manchester School of Art in 1893, working briefly at the University of Reading in 1897 before being appointed as principal of the Royal College of Art in 1898, a post he held for a year. Crane's international reputation gathered pace during the 1890s: he visited the United States in 1890-1; a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Fine Art Society, London, in 1891 before touring the United States and Europe; and his work was also shown at Samuel Bing's celebrated Galerie l'Art Nouveau which opened in Paris in 1895. There was also increasing and favourable coverage of Crane's work in reviews in leading magazines. A number of his lectures were published, including his Cantor Lectures on The Decorative Illustration of Books (1896), The Bases of Design (1898), and Line and Form (1900). His books included The Claims of Decorative Art (1892), Ideals in Art (1905), An Artist's Reminiscences (1907), and William Morris to Whistler (1911).
No higher resolution available.
CRANE_a_garland_for_mayday_1895.jpg (450 × 580 pixels, file size: 105 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)
The art of celebration
Walter Crane (1845-1915) was a leading British artist who is perhaps now best remembered for his association with the socialist movement.