A variety of Tree of Life tapestries are on our website, mostly from William Morris or Gustav Klimt. Given this selection it is interesting to consider the background to this subject and why they continue to be popular today.
The Tree of Life
For most, the Tree of Life is traced way back to the earliest Biblical narratives. In Genesis God planted a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the paradise setting of the Garden of Eden whose fruit gave everlasting life.
Not surprisingly, God forbad Adam and Eve to eat it – in Genesis 3 v 22, God said that man “must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever”. However the serpent intervened and the rest is history. Since then the Tree of Life has found it way into a wide variety of beliefs with varying interpretations. So it is not surprising that artists have felt compelled to depict it.
William Morris Tree of Life tapestries
William Morris is the most significant of these from the perspective of tapestries. He chose to set it within the context of the medieval “mille fleurs” (thousand flowers) background which he much admired. Thoroughly typical of his style, combining nature and history, it remains timeless. This timelessness is key to its popularity.
Today the William Morris Tree of Life tapestry is woven in France and available in several sizes (above). Additionally, there’s a recent addition of one with brown earthy tones (below) or with a black background. Please click on the images for further details.
Anyone with any knowledge of the mind of Gustav Klimt will not be surprised to discover that he was sufficiently intrigued with the Tree of Life to paint his own interpretations. Here are three, illustrating Klimt’s different approaches to the same theme.