Labours Of The Month

February
February

April
April

QUEENS COLLEGE OVERMANTEL
The Queeens College onermantel was the most important commission of the 1862 great Exhibition. The overmantel represents Morrris firm’s most ambitious scheme of tile decoration, comprising of 18 panels of from two to nine tiles each, set in a surround of the Swan pattern and a floral border of oblong tiles.

The Labours (in fact January is represented not by a labour but the classical Janus figure, and neither Febuary nor April depict tasks) each have a black-letter scroll bearing a latinised form of the name of the month. All have medieval precedents. It has been suggested that in planning the series of tile pictures, Morris may have been following a particular cycle he had seen in an early manuscript or almanac, or that he may have seen such cycles in mid nineteenth century antiquarian journals. A prime candidate would have been the publication in 1857 of the twelfth-cenyury mosaic floor of Aosta cathedral, the subjects of ten of whose scenes correspond with Morris.


F E B R U A R Y
Designed by Sir Edward Coley BURNE-JONES Bt (1833-1898) and painted by Lucy FAULKNER ORRINSMITH (1839-1910) for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company.

February, depicting a young woman in 18th-century dress reading a valentine card, is from a series of 2-tile panels illustrating all twelve of The Months. Other figures in the series were designed by D. G. Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and William Morris. As well as the version in the William Morris Gallery, there is another set of The Months used in the tiled overmantel of the Dining Hall at Queen's College, Cambridge (1862). The zodiac sign (Pisces) in the top right corner was designed by Philip Webb (1831-1915).


A P R I L
Designed by William MORRIS (1834-1896) and painted by Lucy FAULKNER ORRINSMITH (1839-1910) for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company.

April, depicting a young woman in medieval dress holding a blossoming branch, is from a series of 2-tile panels illustrating all twelve of The Months. Other figures in the series were designed by D. G. Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones. As well as the version in the William Morris Gallery, there is another set of The Months used in the tiled overmantel of the Dining Hall at Queen's College, Cambridge (1862). The Zodiac sign (Taurus) in the top left corner was designed by Philip Webb (1831-1915).

Mantel tiles Queens College Cambridge