Author(s): Tessa Wild
William Morris and his Palace of Art is a comprehensive new study of Red House, Bexleyheath; the only house commissioned by William Morris and the first independent architectural work of his close friend, Philip Webb. Morris moved in to Red House as an ebullient young man of 26, with an independent income and a head brimming with ideas and the persistent question of 'how best to live? Red House, together with its Pre-Raphaelite garden, stands as the physical embodiment of his exuberant spirit, youthful ambition, passionate medievalism, creativity and great sense of possibility. For five intense years from 1860-5, it was a place of halcyon days - happy family life, loyal friendship, good humoured competition, and the jovial campaign of decorating; furnishing the house and designing the garden. Drawing on a wealth of new physical evidence, this book argues that Red House constitutes an ambitious and critical chapter in his design history. It will re-consider the inspiration it provided for the founding of 'the Firm' of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (later Morris & Co.), in 1861, and the vital collaboration of Webb, Burne-Jones, Rossetti and their intimate circle in realising Morris's dream for his house.