This Art Deco rug ‘Orpheus’ by Ashley Havinden Orpheus’, illustrated here, was one of the designs made for the Wilton Royal Carpet Factory. Conceived in his signature style, which he described in 1965 by stating that ‘as a result of my experiments with abstract painting, I jumped at the idea of the application of bold brush forms and vivid colours to produce ‘swooping’ designs for modern rugs.’ In his celebration of the Greek mythological figure of Orpheus, Havinden highlights its musical associations by masterfully embellishing a curvilinear motif which appears to derive from the symbol of the key of violin.
Ashley Eldred Havinden (1903-1973) was an avant garde English painter and designer, trained at the Central School for Arts and Crafts in London. A prolific advertising artistic director and later President of William S. Crawford Associates, he began designing carpets in 1932 encouraged by Duncan Miller, who exhibited them in his London gallery and dedicated to Havinden a solo show in 1937. He also designed carpets for Simpson’s department store in 1934 and 1935, as well as Edinburgh Weavers (founded in 1928 by James Morton as a progressive branch of the Alexander Morton and Co., a leading mill throughout the Arts & Crafts period).