This is a working cartoon for ‘Helena’, a woven textile designed by John Henry Dearle for Morris & Co. in 1890, manufactured by Alexander Morton & Co. the following year. Cartoons were full-size working drawings which specified the design to be used by the weavers, guiding them as they constructed the pattern on a loom. The paper would commonly be pinned up directly behind the loom, allowing the weaver to look through the warp threads at the image behind. The designer, John Henry Dearle, began his long association with Morris & Co. as a teenager working in the firm’s London shop. He soon became a protégé of William Morris himself, training in stained glass before becoming a tapestry assistant. Dearle eventually became, alongside May Morris, one of the firm’s most respected embroidery and tapestry designers, taking over as Art Director following Morris’ death in 1896.


  • Title: Cartoon for 'Helena' woven wool and silk double cloth
  • Creator: John Henry Dearle, Morris & Co.
  • Date Created: c.1890
  • Location Created: Merton Abbey, Surrey, England
  • Type: design
  • Rights: © William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest
  • Physical Dimensions: 84.7 x 62.1 cm
  • Object Number: BLA471
  • Medium: pencil, ink and watercolour on paper

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