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The Arts and Crafts Movement: Simplicity, Humanity, Beauty

All-Day Program
View other America's Gilded Age programming

Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Code: 1H0227

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Red House, London, co-designed in 1859 by William Morris and Philip Webb

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."—William Morris

The arts and crafts movement was a dominant influence in visual and decorative arts and architecture in the decades leading up to and after the turn of the last century. Growing out of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and aesthetic movements in England, it offered an artistic and philosophical reaction to the florid, overdecorated, and industrialized design of the high-Victorian era.

William Morris’s pronouncements on beauty, utility, nature, and the joy of hand craftsmanship guided the movement’s artists. Rejecting machine work as deadening to workers and mass-produced commercial goods as aesthetically inferior, Morris revived many craft arts such as tapestry and book-making. The movement was carried across the Atlantic, where the arts and crafts philosophy challenged the opulence and crassness of America’s Gilded Age. Morris’s principles took root here, and were interpreted in the Craftsman, Roycroft, and Mission styles, among others, and influenced a new generation of creators.

Art historian Bonita Billman explores the rich flowering and legacy of a movement whose influence is still felt.

The Arts and Crafts Movement in England

9:30–10:45 a.m.  William Morris and the origins of the movement

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Morris’s influence on his successors including Asbhee, Voysey, and Webb

12:15–1:15 p.m.  Lunch (participants provide their own)

The American Arts and Crafts Movement

1:15–2:30 p.m.  Gustav Stickley; Greene and Greene and the bungalow style; Frank Lloyd Wright

2:45–4 p.m.  Roycroft and Byrdcliffe, Maria Longworth Nichols and the rise of American art pottery

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit


America's Gilded Age

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)