The Aesthetic Look

With just over a month to go before the exhibition opens its doors to the public, the press interest is growing. Last weekend the ‘How To Spend It’ feature in the Financial Times was inspired by The Cult of Beauty.

Influenced by the paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the stylist Damian Foxe transformed the actress Bonnie Wright into a modern day Fanny Cornforth or Alexa Wilding (Rossetti’s models and muses)

Dressed in flowing olive-green and coral coloured gowns, Bonnie Wright is shown surrounded by peacock feathers and opulent floral arrangements. If you would like to see the photographs and a behind-the-scenes video of the fashion shoot just follow the link below:

There is also a feature on Stephen Calloway, the exhibition’s curator, in his usual late-nineteenth century inspired attire:

The setting for the fashion shoot was the V&A’s Green Dining Room often simply referred to as ‘the Morris room’. It was decorated by William Morris’s firm of ‘art workmen’, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1866. This was a major public commission for a firm which was at that point relatively unknown.

In the exhibition we will be including two objects related to the Green Dining Room. This design for the olive branch patterned walls and hare and hounds cornice was produced by the architect and designer Philip Webb, one of Morris’s colleagues.

Philip Webb
Design for Wall Decoration and Cornice of the Green Dining Room in the South Kensington Museum, 1866
Pencil, watercolour, body colour and gold pigment on paper
Given by Mr H. B. Johnson
V&A: E.5096-1960

In 2009 the V&A also acquired an early design for Morris’s ‘Fruit’ wallpaper which was produced in about 1862 and clearly relates to The Green Dining Room decoration. The design includes an olive branch motif which was then omitted from the final printed wallpaper.

William Morris
Design for ‘Fruit’ (or ‘Pomegranate’) Wallpaper, about 1862
Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and body colour
Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund
V&A: E.299-2009

The Green Dining Room retains its original function as a place to eat and it is a must see for visitors to the museum.

Photograph of The Green Dining Room