Decorative Arts From Britain to Boston
BOSTON — The term "arts and crafts" was coined in England in the late 19th century, and was used to describe a movement designed to revive the decorative arts.
Led by figures like William Morris - the English poet, artist, craftsman, designer, printer, and social reformer - the Arts and Crafts Movement honored and valued handmade objects that were both beautiful and useful in everyday life.
By the mid-19th century, cheap factory-made goods had almost entirely driven handicraftsmen and women from their trades. The old methods of making high-quality, everyday objects by hand, perfected and passed down over centuries, were nearly lost.
The ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement included reform not only of design but also society. The artists sought to revive what they saw as the social conscience of the Middle Ages that had been taken away by the Industrial Revolution.
Boston's close relations to England and its role as a cultural and educational center made it the perfect place for the ideals of the English Arts and Crafts Movement to take root.
The American movement proved to be enormously influential, popular, and long-lasting, spreading widely on both sides of the Atlantic.