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Morris was renowned as a designer of flat patterns and to one dealer these designs represented “Morris
incarnate”. The dealer continued: “To a collector of this period buying these designs was like buying a Michelangelo.”

Sourced privately in Scotland, the drawings were an important rediscovery of some of Morris’s earliest wallpaper designs. Pomegranate (pictured), a gouache over pencil on paper laid down on cotton, was arguably the most important example. Marking a break from his earlier grid work to diagonal patterns, this was also the first appearance of the pomegranate, which later became the hallmark of the Arts and Crafts movement.

With interest from across the globe in the room, on the book and on the phones, Pomegranate was knocked down to a London dealer for a record £38,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium). The same dealer went on to take the other three designs – Poppy or Wreath at £28,000, Lily at £23,000 and Powdered at £19,000.