In the 19th century, the rapid industrialization of Europe and the associated rise in machine-made products encouraged the decline of the tapestry industry. However, in a direct response to what he perceived as the soullessness of art in an increasingly mechanized culture, William Morris, a leader of the British Arts and Crafts movement, established a tapestry workshop at Merton Abbey, Wimbledon, Surrey. Morris, the director of the furnishings and decorative arts firm Morris and Company, set up three looms and a number of dyeing vats with the aim of producing tapestries to equal the late medieval hangings he so admired. Among Merton Abbey’s output was Pomona, included in this exhibition. Though Morris and Company closed in 1940, it was highly influential, not least in its revival of interest in the art of tapestry.

Pomona (detail) from Flora and Pomona , 1906. After a figure design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and a background design by John Henry Dearle. Ida E. S. Noyes Fund.