The Talented Mr. Crane

Inexhaustible,might be more apt.

Most folks seem to be aware of Crane as a designer of really sublime wall-coverings, that is justifiable as the following paper illustrates.

Fig & Peacock


Jeffrey & Company



Walter Crane started out as a child prodigy, beginning as an apprentice at the tender age of twelve to the master engraver W.J. Linton. At seventeen he became an independent illustrator, from that ridiculously young age he began his glorious career. It makes me rather ill.

Walter Crane

1886, aged 41

b. 15th August 1845

d. 14th March 1915

As a designer of gorgeous papers, I feel he has no match. I know Morris is god, but for me , Crane’s narrative quality cannot be matched.Pattern by Morris tastefully recedes, Crane’s design thrust their presence forward. i consider that to be a positive quality.

This marvelous dado/frieze is a great example of his powerful yet poetic design.

Wall-paper Frieze


Jeffrey & Company


What I find most fascinating about Crane is his command of line. The man was a master. He had little patience with his contemporaries who were smudging away with charcoal smears and frantic ink hatching. In his writing, “The Claims of Decorative Arts” 1892, he ridiculed “the want of invention and the absence of purity and precision of line”.

He certainly practiced what he preached, the following illustrations attest to that fact. The line work is pure, convincing,  and Hellenistic. Like Flaxman without the chastity.

The Sleeping Beauty


This is a good example of Crane’s amazing ability at creating interior spaces. Rooms you want to live in.

He made mention of this sort of design work when he said ” However , if they did not bring in much money, I had my fun out of them, as in designing. I was in the habit of putting in all sorts odd  subsidiary detail that interested me, and often made them the vehicle for my ideas in furniture and decoration. ” ( An Artist’s Remembrances, 1907) . Some of his most popular work was in the illustration work for Aesop’s fables. These well loved fables proved fertile ground for Crane’s active mind. I have chosen a few favorites.

Baby’s Own Aesop

front cover


title page


Again, a complex design for a simple function, listing the contents.

I was unfamiliar with this particular fable, but the poor picked upon bat toiuches my heart.

Bats and peacocks are always a favorite theme.

Cranes are also  pretty marvelous.

With this final charming image I close.

Good night.


2 Responses to “The Talented Mr. Crane”

  1. These are simply divine!

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