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Victorian Tile Gallery

Classic Victorian and Victorian Era Tiles

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. ~Oscar Wilde

How to Choose Victorian Tiles

Victorian seance

The Victorian era was a long one -- Victoria reigned for 63 years. When we speak of "Victorian style", we often include Victorian, Fin de Siecle, Queen Anne and Edwardian as well. All of these Victorian tiles will work in Victorian homes: encaustic tiles, classic blue and white tiles, mass-produced geometric designs produced by Minton and other industrial tile makers, hand-painted botanicals, Morris designs from Nature, Victorian medieval and Gothic revival tiles, Arts & Crafts tiles (English, American Scottish). A wider circle includes tiles based on Victorian themes and interests.

Consequently, this page is less a listing of Victorian tiles than a gateway to other Victorian era tiles at William Morris Tiles.

Related Catalogs

Morris and Morris & Co. Tiles

Tiles from William Morris Textile Designs

William Morris Red House and Very Early Tiles

Scottish and Glasgow School Arts & Crafts

Victorian Blue and White Tiles

Pre-Raphaelite Art Tile

William De Morgan Tiles (later tiles are more Art Nouveau)

Victorian Floriography (The Language of Flowers) and Medieval Hares

Hares and Harebell tiles.

What do hares and harebells mean? The language of flowers was a popular Victorian interest. Both hares and harebells have their roots in a rich symbolism in mythology and folklore. These tiles bring together the rich mythology of hares and the Victorian fascination with botanicals and floriography (the language of flowers), a means of communication through the way flowers are used and by decrypting their meaning. Coded messages were sent with flowers, expressing feelings that could not be spoken in Victorian society.

Hares and Harebell tiles

Morris and Co. Tiles and Tiles from Textiles

Victorian tiles and textiles.

Morris & Co. produced tiles during its first decade, then turning over tile operations to William De Morgan as its focus shifted to textiles (wallpapers, fabric, and needlework), as well as custom work for its wealthier clients.

Tiles from William Morris Textile Designs

Shown from Top left:

De Morgan Blue Peony scroll for the P&O 'Arabia' (two variations available)

Woodland Weeds (shown in cream)

Golden Lily

William Morris Acanthus shown in Black Gold

Membland accent tile (borders, backsplashes, and full mural available with black, cream, cobalt/indigo backgrounds)

May Morris Flower Pot (available in blue and white)

William De Morgan parrots and macaws (tile, backsplash, and fireplace panels available in black and cream)

De Morgan Fantastic Bird (tile, backsplash, or panels

William Morris Lily and Pomegranate (shown in Rossetti blue, white, and cobalt)

Blue and White Tiles

Victorian Blue and White Tiles

Blue and white tiles were popular before the Victorian era and well after. The popularity of tile, and faster ships made Dutch Delftware, and blue and white tiles from the near and far east more accessible. Domestic tile makers also made blue and white tiles.

Victorian Blue and White Tiles

Shown from top left:

CFA Voysey bluebirds,

Philip Webb Red House birds (border pattern, also single tilestile),

Strawberry Thief,

Willow in blue and white,

May Morris Flower Pot in blue and white,

Morris & Co. Longdon,

William Morris Swans,

William De Morgan Chinese junk (18 ships available),

Morris & Co. Nine-bough square,

William De Morgan ship tryptich,

Arts and Crafts Tiles

Brother Rabbit

A little defining of terms is called for. Although Morris is considered the founder of the Arts & Crafts movement, the term doesn't always mean Morris, and sometimes refers to mass-produced American Craftsman furnishings produced some 70-80 years later. See Why Arts & Crafts is not Craftsman.

For Morris, De Morgan, Burne-Jones and friends, the defining character of Arts & Crafts is the underlying philosophy and the way the tile is made. William De Morgan made blue and white ship tiles in small runs for Morris & Co; that's Victorian Arts & Crafts. Minton and others mass-produced blue and white ship tiles, Victorian but not Arts & Crafts. Both are Victorian and work in a Victorian home.

Here are some Morris and Morris-influenced tiles that lend themselves well to more rustic Arts & Crafts homes such as the kitchen shown.

Classic Victorian and Minton Tiles

Victorian nursery tiles: Aesop's Fables and Alice in Wonderland

Although Morris and Ruskin took exception to the quality to the mass-produced furnishings of an increasingly industrialized 19th Century, the tiles produced by Minton and Co. have proved to be quite robust. Minton floor tiles are installed in many churches, and public buildings, such as Westminster Palace and the U.S. Capitol. Signal characteristics of Classic Victorian tiles are geometric patterns which may be inlaid or transfer printed. Characters from literature were popular and were somtimes framed on the tile by geometric shapes, with scroll edges that fit with other tiles. I can think of no Victorian Arts & Crafts tiles that show this mosaic aspect.

The tiles show are based on Edward Detmold's illustartions to Aesop's fables. The Alice in Wonderland tiles are CFA Voysey tiles done for Minton and Co. in 1890, more than 30 years before he designed his famous Alice wallpaper. Although Morris and Voysey were friends, Morris and Co. had stopped producing tiles in-house and sold only De Morgan tiles. Voysey's Alice in Wonderland tiles were produced by Minton Co.

Aesop and Alice Tiles

Victorian Nursery Tiles

William Morris Arts & Crafts Tiles

Bird and Trellis, White Flowers

A signal characteristic of Arts & Crafts tiles is that they take their images from nature. This is still true in the later Arts & Crafts tiles of De Morgan and the Glasow School. Shown is William Morris' Bird and Trellis, a pattern he designed after watching the birds darting in and out between the trellises at Red House.

Morris and Morris & Co. Tiles

Red House and Early Tiles

William De Morgan Tiles

Tapestries and Textiles

Glasgow School Arts & Crafts

Victorian and Golden Age Fairy Tales

Victorian Fairies backsplash

Tiles that reflect the Victorian and Edwardian intests in fairy painting, myths and fables.

Victorian Fairy Tiles

Mermaid Tile Backsplash

Riders of the Sidhe, Celtic Fairy Backsplash

Golden Age Folklore and Fairy Tale Art Tiles

Nineteenth Century Magical Thinking

Waterhouse: Circe Invidiosa, Collier: Oracle of Delphi

Tiles that depict Victorian interests and culture. Of interest to Victorians: botanials and zoology, exploration, other cultures in the Empire, spiritualism, magic, Shakespeare and Blake, a romanticism of medieval culture and literature, Victorian fairy painting, myths and fables.

Scrying and Spellcasting Undercabinet Backsplashes

Fire and Water Fireplace Panels