Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Blounts, the Holidays & the Cranes - dress & exhibiting

The reason why I wrote my previous posts about the birth of the Arts and Crafts movement was because there were some connections that I had not appreciated previously between the Peasant Arts movement and some of the people involved in the Arts and Crafts movement and the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union.  It would appear that the Blounts, Holidays and Cranes all produced some work as joint collaborations of husband and wife, and were all interested in the anti-corset movement.
Honesty plaster frieze by G. J. Frampton,
exhibited at 1896 Arts and Crafts Society Exhibition,
The Studio vol 9, issue 44, November 1896

Godfrey Blount exhibited works at the 1896 and 1899 Arts and Crafts Society Exhibitions (Parry, Linda, Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Thames & Hudson, 2005).  Unfortunately it is not clear what works these were, but we do know that Godfrey and his wife, Ethel Blount, worked together on tapestries.  Parry noted that the 1899 exhibition contained an increased representation of hand-weaving.  Walter Crane was the President of the Society at the time.  Then in 1904 the Godfrey and Ethel Blount joined the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union committee of which Walter Crane was one of the Vice-Presidents.
The Dress Review, January 1904
President Henry Holiday, Vice-President Walter Crane,
General Committee members Godfrey Blount and Mrs Godfrey Blount

Henry Holiday was the President of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, and was an original member of The Fifteen with Walter Crane back in 1886.  Holiday exhibited embroidery in the 1896 Arts and Crafts Society Exhibition. 
Bed cover designed by William Morris,
made by Catherine Holiday c.1876,
Victoria & Albert Museum

Linda Parry (ibid) refers to his wife, Catherine Holiday, as William Morris’ favourite embroideress, the only one ‘whose work is as good as the old’.  She worked for Morris & Co., embroidering Morris and Henry Holiday’s designs.  Her work was “mostly large-scale bedcovers, hangings and portieres which were drawn out in Morris & Co.’s workshops and embroidered in the firm’s silks.  She was a hard-headed businesswoman, and all her work for Morris was done after mutual agreement on colours and materials.  He was often worried that her prices of £100-150 per hanging were too high.  Three panels embroidered by her, one designed by Morris and another by Henry Holiday, were exhibited in 1888 and 1890.” (ibid)
Healthy & Artistic Dress Union leaflet detail

Walter Crane’s wife and daughter also exhibited works at the Arts and Crafts Society Exhibitions.  In the 1888 exhibition “of all the embroideries exhibited, Mrs Walter Crane’s mantel valance worked in white cotton on black wool was singled out for praise by several journals” (Parry, ibid).  Although not appearing as a Committee member on the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, the July 1906 Dress Review reported Mrs Walter Crane as presiding over a Healthy and Artistic Dress Union meeting "A few highly appreciated words were spoken by Mistress Crane, who emphatically condemned tight-lacing, though she admitted she now liked a little support herself".
Mrs Walter Crane, 1882
by Walter Crane, Musee Orsay


  1. Hi there Kate!

    I'm reading your posts regarding the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union with great interest. I've been researching them for some time (finishing a PhD actually), and you've uncovered some things I missed! I believe I might as well have some information for you (including Aglaia!). Would you be interested in chatting and perhaps sharing ideas?

    Please drop me an email at robyneerica at gmail dot com - I'd love to talk to you!!

    Very best,


  2. Hi Robyne

    Thanks for your interest, I'll try and get in touch. The HADU / Aglaia movement is a very interesting one.


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