Object of the Month - In Memoriam by Evelyn De Morgan

 

On 2nd May 1919, Evelyn De Morgan passed away. Her funeral was held at Chelsea Old Church on 8th May 1919, before she was laid to rest with her husband William at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking.

Evelyn had designed the De Morgan headstone and it had been carved by Sir George Frampton, it is Grade 2 listed. The neighbouring plots include the final resting places on Evelyn’s brother Rowland Pickering (1861-1931), brother- in-law Charles Stirling (1866-1948) and her servant, companion, model and muse, Jane Mary Hales (1852-1926).

In Memoriam was painted by Evelyn some twenty years before her own death. It shows a young woman in mourning wearing a purple robe and holding a wreath of flowers intended to celebrate the return of a loved one. She bows her head and curls her body inward, showing the physical agony of grief. Purple is symbolic of wisdom, dignity, devotion, and peace and so it is a colour which the artist has used liberally in

the painting.

The work anticipates Evelyn’s later design for her own tomb stone. In the

background the sun rises in glory, echoing Evelyn’s belief in the afterlife. It is

interesting to note that the epitaph on Evelyn and William's joint tombstone reads 'Sorrow is only of the earth; the life of the spirit is joy'. This painting seems to illustrates this – the female figure is of the earth, and so is full of sorrow. The scene behind her is of the spirit, and so is full of joy.

2020 marks the centenary of the death of this incredible artist and the Foundation is commemorating her life and work this year.