In the Victorian era, certain figures rebelled against the accelerated industrialisation and the decrease in popularity of agricultural and artisanal activities. One of the most important of these figures the designer, artisan, architect and writer William Morris (1834-1896), later known as the maximum exponent of the Arts and Crafts movement. This movement advocated a return to handicrafts, direct contact with the materials, early techniques and protection of the country’s artistic heritage.
In conjunction with the exhibition William Morris and Company: the Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain, this series of lectures will analyse the precursors to and influences on the entrepreneur and artist William Morris, specifically John Ruskin, whose ideas had a notable influence on his work and with whom he would share an eagerness to revive the profession of the craftsman and a distrust in machines. It will also analyse the historical and social context of the England in which he lived, the ideals for which he fought and those who also shared them, such as the Pre-Raphaelites. Morris was not only a brilliant designer and a refined lover of the fine arts, but someone who aspired to reconfigure a whole constellation of aesthetic, political and social categories each separated by a modernity with which he was dissatisfied. And he aspired to do so, precisely, by bringing them together again. Was he successful? Is this still a task that needs to be addressed today?The last lecture will focus on the parallelism with another figure from the art world: Mariano Fortuny, with whom –to a certain degree– there are various points of comparison, although each artist had a very different personality.