Pre-Raphaelite Mural Uncovered in William Morris’s London House


Restoration work at the Red House, the National Trust-registered home artist William Morris created in the London suburb of Bexleyheath in the 19th century, has revealed a previously hidden pre-Raphaelite mural by Morris and his contemporaries Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his wife Elizabeth Siddal, Edward Burne-Jones, and Ford Madox Brown. The mural’s discovery occurred months ago when conservationists were trying to recover a painting of a single figure that was concealed by a wardrobe in Morris’s  bedroom, the Guardian reports. Subsequent efforts to expose the entire mural recently came to fruition.

“In the morning we had one and a half murky figures, in the evening we had an entire wall covered in a pre-Raphaelite painting of international importance,” the Red House’s property manager James Breslin told the Guardian. “We had no idea what the figures, or the newly revealed inscriptions, represented, but at the Red House it pretty much has to be Chaucer, Arthurian myth or the Bible – all fairly daunting works to start reading line by line.”

The mural features biblical figures including Adam and Eve, and an inscription for which the managers of the Red House had trouble finding a source. So they put out an appeal on Twitter, and were told to “Try Genesis 30:6″ by a follower, whereupon they discovered the origins of the quotation: “And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son.”

This is just the latest discovery in the artist’s home, which was acquired by the National Trust a decade ago, and whose every room has revealed some previously hidden painting or mural on its ceilings and walls.

“Basically every white surface in the house is suspect — there will be color underneath it,” said Breslin. “Why have three clashing patterns when you can have six, seems to have been their motto.”

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)