Caring for the Collection
Industrialisation, polarisation of the classes and secularisation as well as war caused great changes in British society in the late 18th and early 19th century and no two artists reacted against these dramatic changes to their world more than husband and wife duo, William and Evelyn De Morgan.
He was the most influential Arts and Crafts ceramic designer who reacted against the mass-produced, printed ceramics to create a wonderful world of escapism in his designs of floral patterns and fantastical beasts.
In 1887, he married the radical feminist painter Evelyn Pickering, whose jewel-like canvases demonstrate her interest in spiritualism, pacifism and the forgotten art of the Old Masters.
With 70 oil paintings, 1000 pieces of ceramic and 800 works on paper, this collection is the largest, most comprehensive collection of De Morgan art work in the world. Each piece of art is carefully displayed or stored to the highest conservation and security standards to ensure future generations can continue to enjoy it.
Our Lady of Peace (1907) by Evelyn De Morgan is a brilliant picture of swirling rainbow mists out of which bursts a soldier’s vision of the Virgin Mary. She represents the hope of peace coming after war. For many years, we were unable to display this masterpiece, due to flaking paint and a cracking frame which had been caused by water damage.
In 2018 our generous supporters contributed £4,000 towards the cost of conservation of this brilliant picture to get it back on public display.
Our conservator discovered that the signature and date had been altered, from 1907 to 1902. As the paintings depicts a soldier praying for an end to war, the date may have been changed to align the picture with the end of the Boer War which was in 1902 and make the picture more clearly reflect this subject. Through our conservation work, we can now be certain of the date of the picture and better understand Evelyn’s wonderful career.
The Derek Hill Foundation is a regular supporter of the De Morgan Collection and has contributed over £1,000 for conservation to our lustrous ceramics. Thanks to this support, we have been able to enlist ceramic conservator Bouke De Vries to repair our Dodo Plate which we now use in our handling sessions with schools, inspiring young people to engage with art.
We rely on your generous support to care for and display this wonderful collection