Our Lady of Peace (1900) by Evelyn De Morgan is one of the De Morgan Foundation’s most important paintings, marking a pivotal moment in Evelyn’s artistic career, as it was the first that she fully dedicated to the theme of overcoming war with peace. Being a pacifist and spiritualist, she was horrified by news of the conflict and used her art to inspire others that there was hope of peace. It is our Object of the Month this November.
She has used widely recognisable imagery of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Peace, surrounded with swathes of laurel ‘putti’, an angel motif borrowed from Renaissance painting. In front of Our Lady kneels a soldier. Rather than praying for his own military success, he prays for peace. Evelyn sees him as an individual and as an instrument in bringing eventual peace, not as a cog in the machine of war.
This wonderful beautiful painting, with jewel-like colours, perfect rendering of features and Evelyn’s signature rainbow mist swirls is truly iconic and still so relevant today, in a world that is still haunted by war.
The De Morgan Foundation owns many preparatory sketches for the painting, including the charming drawing for of the young boy (above) which Evelyn modelled into a winged putti.
Unfortunately, this painting has been so badly water damaged that it now sits in a fine art store, unable to be a symbol of hope to the public today.
I am currently looking to raise £16,000 for the restoration of Our Lady of Peace. This sum is required for specialist conservators to adhere the paint back to the canvas in a painstaiking process. The original frame is also very badly damage and has cracked into two pieces across the top edge. The funds we raise will go directly towards restoring this painting and frame to its former glory.
Once repaired, we will exhibit this painting in our forthcoming exhibition Artist of Peace which will be an indepth look at Evelyn’s war paintings. We will also show the drawings next to the painting to allow visitors to appreciate Evelyn’s skill and process in creating works of art.
(images: Drawing of the Head of a Boy, preparatory sketch for Our Lady of Peace; Section of the Our Lady of Peace before damege; Section of Our Lady of Peace in current damaged situation)