curator's blog

Mary Evelyn Pickering (1855-1919) is often described as the wife of famous Arts and Crafts potter, William De Morgan. Indeed, her sister and biographer named her book of reminiscences on the couple as William De Morgan and his Wife. However, she was in fact a talented and pioneering female artist, who battled for recognition and respect in the male dominated Victorian art world.

A much under researched part of William De Morgan's oeuvre is his designs for stained glass. Between 1865 and 1872 he was known to have worked on stained glass production with Edward Burne-Jones for Morris and Co. As well as contributing to some of Burne-Jones’s commissions he also worked on commissions by himself and we are aware that he created designs for 8 churches across the country, of which we believe 5 are still in situ.  

De Morgan Foundation acquires rare copy of “The Result of an Experiment” publication of William and Evelyn De Morgan’s automatic writings.

Hidden away in a dark corner of All Saints Church, in the tiny village of Cawthorne, some wonderful but relatively unknown paintings by Evelyn De Morgan are located.

It has long been common knowledge that De Morgan was employed by P&O’s ships architect T.E.Colcutt to design schemes and provide tile decorations for the public rooms and circulation areas of twelve P&O liners. Initially supplying stock designs such as the Rose and Trellis, Double Carnation and BBB tiles which were installed in the smoking room of the s.s.Britannia, De Morgan soon progressed to designing elaborate schemes of arcades of trees, or imagined vistas from the ship’s voyage.

It is always exciting to examine paintings in order to discover the layers of paint and  the correlation between these layers and the changing intentions of the artist. Evelyn De Morgan's work however, is characterised by her efficiency in applying paint to the canvas and the resulting lack of alterations. Evelyn created many preparatory drawings for each painting, both compositional sketches and detailed studies of individual elements, and thus by the time she put paint to canvas she had a pretty good idea in her mind of how she wanted her completed work to look.

The headstone of Roddam Spencer Stanhope

On a bleak winter’s day in January 1917, William De Morgan’s funeral service was held at Chelsea Old Church. A marble plaque honouring the much loved ceramicist and novelist was later unveiled there by May Morris. However, De Morgan’s final resting place is in fact at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking.

Welcoming Fine Cell Work (the social enterprise that works with Prisoners to create beautifully crafted interior design products) to the Centre once again, led me to reflect on the very special links between our two organisations, which run deeper than one might first imagine.

We often have visitors enquire where else they can see William De Morgan works on display and in situ. De Morgan's tiles can be seen in many houses throughout the country, and often pop up in unexpected places, but did you know there are some unique De Morgan tiles on display in a small memorial, right in the heart of London? This treasure can be found in Postman's Park.