Designed by William Morris (British, 18341896); Produced by Morris & Company, Merton Abbey, England
Printed cotton; 108 x 38 1/8 in. (274.3 x 96.8 cm)
Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1923 (23.163.10)
This printed design was achieved by a combination of indigo discharge and block printing. This multistep process began with the dying of the entire cloth with blue indigo dye. Then the areas that were not to remain blue were bleached (the blue was "discharged"), and the remaining colors were applied by the block printing method. The discharge process could produce both white areas and several shades of blue, depending on the strength of the bleaching agent applied to the fabric.
The design was inspired by historic textiles, especially fifteenth-century velvets that often featured a strong diagonal or meandering branch from which various flowers emanated. The title of the design refers to the river on which the Merton Abbey textile mill was situatedthat river being absolutely crucial as a source of power and clean water for textile processing.