Evelyn De Morgan: The Gold Drawings

Leighton House

12 Holland Park Road, London, W14 8LZ

Opening information

Wednesday to Monday, 10am to 5.30pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Until 27th August.


Evelyn De Morgan’s gold drawings sparkle with a rare luminosity. Integral to her artistic practice, she made these drawings in materials of her own invention. She bought dry ‘cakes’ of gold pigment and ground these to make paint and pastels that she could use to create warmth, life and light. These curious artworks are unlike works by any other artists of the period.

This exhibition brings together 14 of De Morgan’s drawings from the De Morgan Collection and Leighton House Collection. Through these works, visitors will gain an understanding of De Morgan’s artistic talent, understanding of materials and meticulous working process.

Boreas and Orithyia (c.1889)

Victoria Dolorosa (1902) by Evelyn De Morgan

Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) was a painter who defied the expectations of her class and gender to become one of the most impressive artists of a generation. Her compositions deliver messages of feminism, spirituality and the rejection of war and material wealth, making them incredibly relevant today. Victoria Dolorosa (pictured here) was one of the last pictures De Morgan made in her sparkling gold method. Meaning ‘sorrowful victory’ in Latin, Victoria Dolorosa reminds us that even when a war is won, everyone has paid the price of loss and suffering.

In 1883 Evelyn married arts and crafts potter William De Morgan, who was commissioned by the artist Frederic, Lord Leighton to work on both the Arab Hall (pictured above) and Narcissus Hall in his studio-home in Kensington. Following Leighton’s death his home became Leighton House Museum. Evelyn De Morgan was one of the first artist’s to have her art exhibited to the public here in 1902, followed by another solo show in 1919 upon her death. Bringing the gold drawings to Leighton House for this exhibition celebrates the historic connections between these Victorian artists.

This exhibition will display some works by Evelyn De Morgan which have not been on public display since their debut at the Fine Art Society in 1889. This includes Mercy and Truth which has been expertly conserved especially for inclusion in this exhibition. This drawing presents a complex allegory of Psalm 85, which urges the viewer to look to God for salvation. It might seem that mercy and truth are set against each other, with mercy looking to grant pardon and truth determined to condemn. But in De Morgan’s drawing of salvation, mercy and truth have met together. Like many others, it is a drawing which explores great universal truths and moralising subjects. These were so important to De Morgan, that she made them in blazing gold.

Mercy and Truth (c.1889)

Until 1st October 2023


We rely on your generous support to care for and display this wonderful collection