George Frederic Watts said of Evelyn De Morgan: "I look upon her as the first woman artist of the day — if not of all time". Evelyn De Morgan née Pickering was born on 30 August 1855. Her father was Percival Pickering QC, Recorder of Pontefract and her mother, Anna Maria, was a descendant of the Earl of Leicester who was also known as Coke of Norfolk.

Early on Evelyn decided she wanted to be an artist and persuaded her parents to allow her to enrol at the Slade School of Art in 1873, two years after it had opened. The classical training she received under the then Principal, Edward Poynter, influenced her choice of subject matter and composition.

Her uncle, the artist Roddam Spencer Stanhope, was the other major influence on her work. He lived in Florence and Evelyn made many trips to see him and to study the Renaissance masters, particularly Botticelli and his Florentine contemporaries. It was here that she began to move away from classical subjects favoured by the Slade and her own distinctive style of allegory and symbolism emerged. She was one of the founder exhibitors at the Grosvenor Gallery, the avant-garde alternative to the Royal Academy where she exhibited alongside work by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, George Frederick Watts and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

Evelyn died in 1919 aged 64 continuing to paint until a few days before her death. 

To find out more about the collection please use our collections search