Walter Crane’s artistic vision of a new social order

The new social order: click for larger image.

Titled ‘The new social order: work for all, art for all’, this powerful image was created by the socialist artist Walter Crane (1845-1915) for a leaflet for the so-called Ancoats Brotherhood – named for the district of Manchester in which they were based. The brotherhood had been founded in 1878 with the aim of bringing art and literature to the working class; it organised lectures, concerts, excursions, cycle rides and dances – creating a busy social schedule for its members.

Crane was a significant figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, and in addition to his work for socialist causes he is well known for his iconic illustrations for children’s books and his designs for wallpaper, ceramics and other decorative products. He created this work in 1895, and it was drawn and engraved on wood by Arthur W. Leverett. It shows the figure of Hope standing before a working class family to proclaim: ‘Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.’

Walter Crane, pictured around 1875. National Portrait Gallery.

The image shown above can be found in the University of Manchester Library and is part of the John Rylands online images collection (LUNA Image ref: JRL0806541dc). The library holds more of Crane’s work, including his famous engraving of The Workers’ May Pole.

More about this image at the University of Manchester Library.

The National Portrait Gallery holds a number of pictures of Walter Crane, including this c1875 albumen cabinet card by Elliott & Fry.

More on the Ancoats Brotherhood on the Working Class Movement Library website.