Queen’s House, Royal Museums Greenwich, London
Rolling waves and the mythological creatures that live beneath them were important motifs to both William and Evelyn De Morgan. William De Morgan had sketched imagined galleons from a young age and these were adapted for his ceramic designs in later life. His impossible seas, bountiful with fish and mermen, which could be coiled and twisted to fill the circular forms of his ceramics, made for lively and exciting designs. He won major commissions for the interiors of luxury yachts, for the Tzar of Russia and for the Peninsula and Orient (P&O) company, showing his ability to create imaginative seascapes for wealthy travellers. Evelyn De Morgan used the Symbolist qualities of the sea to represent the transient state between life and death. Her wonderful picture The Sea Maidens (1885-6) is perfectly at home at Greenwich, a centre of historic maritime excellence, where the mermaid traditionally acted as a warning to sailors. This display of De Morgan artworks, in the Queen’s House’s 19th century gallery allows for the De Morgan’s sea-inspired artwork to be considered alongside their contemporaries.
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