Drawing of Holland Street

Drawing of Holland Street
by Joan Bloxham, c 1937


Walter Crane

Dates: 1845 - 1915

Profession: Art

Address: 13 Holland Street, W8

Dates at address: 1892 - 1915

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Son of painter Thomas Crane, Crane was brought up in Torquay. A nervous child he was home schooled, learning to sketch with his father. Moving to London in 1859 he was apprenticed to wood engraver William Linton. He married Mary Andrews in 1871 and had three children.

Displaying his first painting at the Royal Academy in 1862 and his popular illustrations for fairy tales in 1865 marked the start of Crane’s career. However, his allegorical, moralistic style proved unpopular in Britain, earning him the nickname “the academician of the nursery”. Success came with his partnership with Morris and Burne-Jones, designing their textiles and wallpapers. He also started illustrating adult literature. The rise of the Arts and Crafts movement gave Crane the prominence he wanted. Duties included founding The Art Workers’ Guild and President of The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. More mainstream roles included Director of Design at Manchester School of Art, then Reading College and finally Principal of the Royal College of Art.

The family moved to Holland Street in 1892. Crane’s socialism and bohemian lifestyle paired with his wife’s unusual habit of driving a buggy around Kensington in a Morris flower-patterned dress raised eyebrows. Parties were memorable; 700 guests attended son Lionel’s 21st with Walter coming dressed as a crane and Mary as a sunflower. The house matched its owners, with hedgerow-lined corridors and rooms overfilled with art and furniture from all over the world. It also contained a live alligator and marmoset.

Related records:

Blue PlaqueSir Edward Burne-Jones – Art