Who WAS May Morris
and What Did She Have to Do
With Victorian Embroidery?

May Morris (Mary "May" Morris) was an influential embroideress and designer, although her contributions are oftenMay Morrisovershadowed by those of her father, William Morris, a towering figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Morris himself is credited with the resurrection of free-form embroidery in the style which would be termed art needlework.

Art needlework emphasized freehand stitching and delicate shading in silk thread, and was thought to encourage self-expression in the needleworker; this contrasted sharply with the brightly coloured Berlin wool work needlepoint and its "paint by numbers" aesthetic which had gripped much of home embroidery in the mid-nineteenth century.

May Morris was active in the Royal School of Art Needlework (now Royal School of Needlework), founded as a charity in 1872 under the patronage of Princess Helena to maintain and develop the art of needlework through structured apprenticeships.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Morris, edited.

Embroidered Alter Frontal, embroidered by May Morris

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An Embroidered Altar Frontal, executed by Miss M. Morris, designed by Mr. Philip Webb. The work is carried out with floss silk in bright colours and gold thread, both background and pattern being embroidered. The five crosses, that are placed at regular intervals between the vine leaves, are couched in gold passing upon a silvery silk ground.

May Morris painting by Rossetti, 1872.
May Morris, 1872, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (detail)
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May was, without a doubt, a very talented and intelligent woman, along with her connection to one of the most famous figures of that time, made her quite influential as an embroidery designer, teacher, and editor.

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