Archive for the Walter Crane Category

Edward Carpenter and George Merrill,a love beyond class, convention and law.

Posted in Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, Fred Holland Day, Gay, Labour & Socialism, Walter Crane on February 9, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As my last post concerning the Greystone murder/suicide was quite a dreary view of love, I had the desire to explore a love that shone bright; particularly poignant considering the repressive Victorian-Edwardian society in which it was expressed.

I am speaking of the love between the Socialist poet-philosopher Edward Carpenter and his working class partner George Merrill; having met in 1881, their love endured for 47 years until Merril died unexpectedly in June of 1928.

All we can ask for is such a sunny season for love to blossom.

Edward Carpenter & George Merrill


source of image

Carpenter, a man of many talents and interests, is best known for his devotion to Socialism and the plight of the working man; we will see how that interest extended into his personal and romantic life. Aside from his role as a prominent Socialist philosopher and poet, he was the author of various Labour anthems, a devotee of Hindu mysticism and philosophy, a vegetarian, an anti-vivisectionist, a naturist, an advocate of sustainable farming, an environmentalist, and most charmingly , an advocate of the Rational Dress movement.

Carpenter, note the sandals.

Rational Dress Dandy ca. 1905


circa 1875

(handsome devil)

b. 29th August 1844

d. 28th june 1929

Carpenter, like his chum Walt Whitman


experienced a growing concern for the plight of the working man. Having moved to Sheffield in 1874 , he became increasingly aware of the the difficulties endured by the “working stiff”. It was during this period that he wrote the Labour anthem England Arise, the following link provides the verse. Carpenter edited the workingman’s songbook Chants of Labour, the frontispiece by Walter Crane, (the most renowned Socialist artist of his day and ours)is quite telling; the depiction of the hunky laborer clearly illustrating Carpenter’s taste in his fellow man.

Chants of Labour

edited by Edward Carpenter

illustrated by Walter Crane

A Songbook of the people with music Edited by Edward Carpenter

(there is a clearer example of this image available at the link to Chants of Labour)

In 1882 Carpenter experienced the good fortune of inheriting his father’s considerable wealth; this allowed him  to devote his energies to the joint causes of the working class and market gardening ( a dream our current locavores aspire to).In ’84 he joins the Socialist League with Master Wm. Morris, further securing his allegiance to the common man.

The year 1886 gives him a taste of love with George Hukin; this is not an emotionally satisfying relationship, as Hukins marries conventionally. This brief bout of unrequited love sharpens Carpenter’s ability to sustain a far truer, happier period of enchantment with Merrill.

George Hukin and Edward Carpenter

source of image

Having met Merrill , a man of the Sheffield slums having no formal education, in 1881 ; they do not move in together until 1898. What the reason for the delay was I am unclear, I for one, moved in with the Beloved quite soon after our initial date.

George Merrill

b. 1866

d. June 1928

(not sure why his vital info is so vague, class snobbery?)

Carpenter best expressed his attraction to “trade” in The Intermediate Sex:

“It is noticeable how often Uranians (as in Plato’s Symposium ) of good position and breeding are drawn to rougher types…”.

So taken was E.M. Forster by the “rougher type”, that when Merrill patted his bum, poor frazzled Forster “scudder-ed” ( pun intended”) home to write Maurice; the character Scudder is for the most part based upon Merrill.

I am left with an enduring respect for this couple, even in our more  tolerant climate, gay love is a challenge; these boys faced a far harsher climate yet the sweetness of their love prevails.

Thank you George and Edward.

I dedicate this post to working boys,

panel designed by Walter Crane


source of image

and to my own dear spouse of 15 wonderful years.

Have a most marvelous Saint Valentine’s Day!

Babylon Baroque

image by Fred Holland Day

The New Year Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein

Posted in Currier & Ives, Glucksschwein, Walter Crane on January 1, 2011 by babylonbaroque

My search for jolly New Years images led me to the odd imagery of pigs as a recurring trope. I have vague memories of marzipan piggies ( and mushrooms) given as gifts by my German Nana, but no clear understanding of their meaning.

postmarked 1909

This funny little trio ,amongst more conventional symbols of luck and prosperity, four leafed clovers and coins, intrigued me and prompted a closer look.

Plus I love pigs.

ca. 1904


The mushrooms in this image are quite similar to the marzipan treats of my childhood, still unclear as to the implied symbolism.

I admire the pattern created by the Lucky Clover.

The perversity of the image above fascinated and repulsed ( I am essentially vegetarian, more so after this postcard).

There is a certain cultural cruelty that finds this sort of image so amusing.

In a recent New York Times editorial,Jessica B. Harris details the  African American”culinary trinity”as being greens,beans and pig. Her understanding is decidedly less optimistic then the Teuton tradition, “The pork is a remembrance of our enslaved forebears, who were given the less noble parts of the pig as food”.

I suggest you read the article,  it is a fascinating discussion about black-eyed peas, collards, meaning around food and tradition.

From my brief research the Austro-German tradition of the Lucky Pig, Glucksschwein, was particularly popular in the late 19th, early 20th century; the postcard images I have unearthed (and owned) attest to that fact. A quick Google search of contemporary Glucksschwein revealed unimaginable horrors.

A bit can be learned from our 19th century forebears.

Although saccharine cute, who can resist a leprechaun, shamrocks, liquor, and a pig?

I am still perplexed as to why we have lost the ability to design “cute” well.

ca. 1899


This image is quite smart, not a hint of cuteness; I particularly admire the restrained palette. The smartly dressed woman in top-hat and crop, a great touch, and the pig is handsomely rendered.

The talented Walter Crane was particularly adept at rendering the Noble Pig, this image from The Baby’s Opera.

I love the phrase”throwing pearls before swine”, this handsome beast seems to deserve such splendor.


So entrenched is the connection of all things porcine to luck, the Germans have an expression “ich habe Schwein gehabt” which apparently translates as “I have had a pig”, culturally understood to mean, “I’ve been lucky”.

No one seems seems to mention the poor piggy.

I do wish my readers a Happy New Year and plenty of Piggy Luck.

Currier & Ives


An overload of piglet cuteness, if you dare.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Louis Lingg, The Hottest Anarchist Ever

Posted in 19th cent., Anarchists, Louis Lingg, Recquiscat in Pace, Walter Crane on September 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

It’s pretty sad when you have a crush on a man who has been dead for 123 years, not to mention that he is/was an Anarchist, and you a dilettantish Monarchist.

Look at this  photograph and all will be explained. Click on image to enlarge.

Louis Lingg

b. Sept. 9th 1864

Mannheim Germany

d. Nov. 10th 1887

Cook County Jail



The youngest of those arrested in the aftermath of the  bloody, event known as the Haymarket Riot .

On May 3rd 1886, Chicago police violently interrupted an altercation between striking workers at the McCormick Reaper plant and strike-breakers. The police fired, killing and wounding several men.

Tensions were high within the Labor movement, May 1st 1886 ( May Day) had just witnessed a national demonstration advocating an 8 hour work day.

The violence at the Mc Cormick plant prompted a rally the next day, to be held in Haymarket Square, the purpose of the rally was to denounce  the police brutality and once again push for a reasonable work day. Multiple trade unions were present. This handsome banner  (of the era) for the Painters-Decorators Union of course charmed the hell out of me.

Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators, Local 194

ca. 1890

painted silk, metallic fringe

70 ½ by 47½ inches

Chicago Historical Society

In what was to be a day of peaceful Labor demonstration, full of fraternité and inspirational speechmaking , turned  quite bloody. An unidentified figure thew a bomb into the crowd of gathered police. Shots were fired, certainly by the police, some sources say from within the crowd. Whatever truly happened within the chaos remains a mystery, but at days end 7 police officers and  4 workers were found dead, plus 60 wounded. A bloody awful day.

Public reaction was of course over-reaction, a Red Scare ensued.

Desperate to find a culprit, eight prominent Chicago Anarchists were arrested, charged, and sentenced with “conspiracy to murder”

They were all but one, sentenced to be “hanged by the neck until he is dead”.

This is astonishing as most of the men accused were not even in attendance. The “logic” of the sentencing was that their political writings, which were quite radical, incited the violence. Was Freedom of Speech an unknown concept in ’86?

Of the eight accused, Judge Jos. E Gary spared Oscar Neebe  death, but sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.

The others were not to  be spared the noose.

On Nov. 10th 1887, a day before he is to climb the scaffold, Louis Lingg places a blasting cap in his mouth, lights it, and blows off his lower jaw, and much of his (beautiful) face. This at the hour of 9 o’clock in the forenoon, he finally after many hours of agony, dies at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

A contemporary image illustrating the ugly event.

Another image, a less “noble ” Lingg committing the act on his cell cot.

Recquiscat in Pace Louis Lingg

Nov. 11th 1887, Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engels, and Adolph Fischer are hanged.

Albert Parsons

August Spies

George Engel

Adolph Fischer

The only cemetery  willing to take the five bodies  was the German Waldheim cemetery.

Six years later, on June 25th 1893, a monument was dedicated to the Haymarket  Martyrs as they were beginning to be called.

Haymarket Martyr’s Monument

Liberty placing a laurel wreath upon a Fallen Worker.

designed by Albert Weinert

German Waldheim Cemetary

Relying upon this wonderful image by the great Walter Crane , public perception concerning this outrage of justice, must have been shifting, at least within progressive circles.

The Anarchists of Chicago

by Walter Crane

Ultimately the Reform movement and the struggles endured, received positive results. The National Eight Hour Law was passed and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on May 19th 1869. I am perplexed by this as the Eight Hour Workday was still an issue at the time of the Haymarket Riot. The 1869 proclamation reads: “I, U.S. grant, President of the United States, do hereby direct that from this date no reduction shall be made in the wages paid by the government by the day, to such laborers, workers, & mechanics on account of such reduction of the hours of labor. In testimony whereof &c, done at the City of Washington, this 19th Day of May, the year of our Lord, 1869 & of the Independence of the United States”.

From my reading the issue of Eight Work Day would have been mute, but I guess not. I am certainly not a legal scholar.

Finally, in 1938 The Fair Labor Standard Act made eight hours a legal days work in the U.S.

In 1893, at the expense of his political career, Gov. John Peter Altgeld pardoned the remaining accused, Folden, Schwab, and Neebe.

This cartoon dated July 15th 1893 expresses some of the outrage at the Governor’s decision. The Monument in the background is a monument honoring the fallen police officers. Click on the image for greater detail, check out the dog collars.

“The Friend of Mad Dogs. Gov. Altgeld of illinois in freeing the Anarchists bitterly denounced Judge Gary and the Jury that convicted them.”

by Judge Publishing Company

Not all sentiment was against Altgeld, this commemorative plaque attests to enough support for the decision to warrant his quote to be cast in bronze. I particularly admire the severed chains.

If interested in further information concerning the Haymarket Riot, I suggest you visit the Chicago Historical Society Collection .

Have a great eight hour work day, and remember to thank the handsome Mr. Lingg and his seven comrades.

In closingI feel compelled to include the ONLY Dolly ditty that I truly cannot stand, but it IS thematic.

Man of Mystery, Donn P. Crane

Posted in 20th century, Donn P. Crane, My Book House, Walter Crane on July 17, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My background was very modest, little thought was given to music, art, or culture. Survival sucked up most of my parents energy and attention. With my parents so very distracted, I withdrew into my own world, my greatest solace, the source of so much that I love to this day, was an enchanting set of books called “My Book House”. They were arranged from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I inhaled every volume, Shakespeare, Wagner, Greek mythology, Aesop’s fables, tales of chivalry, enchanting world after enchanting world. My particular set was published in 1937 and edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.

I was particularly taken with the numerous images accompanying every tale, poem, or light history. Many of the illustrations were by a fellow named Donn P. Crane.

This particular image was produced in 1920, I haven’t researched the twelve volumes  in a while, so I am unsure as to which tale he is illustrating. As you can see his composition is flawless, simple lines evoke so much depth and charm. I was delighted as a boy, and I find myself still delighted.

Many of the illustrations were black and white, his line work compensated for the lack of coloring.


Isn’t the leprechaun adorable?

Many of the illustrations were of a very limited palette , orange and turquoise. As a boy I did not like this palette, it felt limiting, cold, and alienating. If it hadn’t been for Mr.Crane’s magic, I wouldn’t have been able to endure the Howard Johnson’s color-way. I now of course love the combination, the use of opposites is powerful, it allows nuance and subtlety, and I imagine satisfied either budget or printing restrictions.

What I have always wondered about was if there was a connection to Walter Crane and Donn P. Crane. I see stylistic similarities, I have long fantasized that Donn was a son. I have lazily researched this topic and come up short. If anyone has a clue to Mr. Donn P. Crane’s history I would be delighted to know. Mr. Crane shaped my childhood, my taste was cultivated by his work and I still find myself inspired by the fantasy he created.

Thank you Mr. Crane

The set of “My Book House” that I grew up with is most like the bottom selection, a handsome dark navy. My mother, who was the first owner of the set remembers a fanciful bookshelf shaped like a little house. So very charming, but lost to time.

Another remnant of my mother’s childhood that enhanced my own rather bleak one, was a set of Victorian bookends, heavy ,ponderous and pretentious,shaped like a Regency bookshelf,they charmingly quote Shakespeare with “My library was Dukedom large enough”; with Crane and “My Book House” it certainly was.

The Talented Mr. Crane

Posted in 19th cent., Aesthetic Movement, peacocks, wallpaper, Walter Crane on July 9, 2010 by babylonbaroque

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.