CRANE, Walter (1845-1915)
Plaque erected in 1952 by London County Council at 13 Holland Street, Holland Park, London, W8 4NA, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Applied Arts, Cartoons and Illustration, Fine Arts
WALTER CRANE 1845-1915 ARTIST lived here
Walter Crane was a children’s book illustrator and decorative artist, who together with William Morris was a leader in the arts and craft movement. He is commemorated with a blue plaque at 13 Holland Street in Holland Park, Kensington.
ILLUSTRATOR AND ARTIST
The son of a portrait painter, Crane first exhibited his work at the age of 16, but came to public notice from 1865 for his illustrations of a series of children’s books – known as ‘Toy Books’.
In the 1870s he became increasingly involved in the decorative arts, designing textiles, stained glass, tiles, wallpapers and plasterwork. In 1884 he was a founder member of the Art Workers’ Guild and, four years later, founded the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, of which he served as President for many years. In 1898, he was appointed Principal of the Royal College of Art.
By the turn of the 20th century Crane was widely admired, and 13 Holland Street – a property of about 1760 known as The Old House – became a focus for an active social life. Living there from autumn 1892 until the year of his death, Crane and his wife Mary, née Andrews (c. 1846–1914), enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle. They kept a marmoset and an alligator as pets, and for their son Lionel’s 21st birthday party Walter and Mary invited 700 people and dressed up as a crane and a sunflower, respectively.
The walls of number 13 were decorated with some of Crane’s celebrated wallpapers and textiles, while its collections of pewter, china, model ships and Indian dolls reflected the couple’s eclectic tastes.
Visitors to the house included William Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, whose blue plaque can also be found nearby at 41 Kensington Square.