The De Morgan Collection
Watts Gallery is fortunate to host a display of ceramics and oil paintings by William and Evelyn De Morgan. Bringing together richly decorated ceramics by William De Morgan with visionary symbolic paintings by his wife, Evelyn, this sumptuous display showcases the artistic achievements of this extraordinary creative partnership.
The De Morgans were close friends with the Wattses and were regular visitors to Limnerslease as well as collaborating with them on several projects.This display celebrates that friendship and marks the launch of a partnership between Watts Gallery – Artists' Village and the De Morgan Foundation that will help to establish an internationally important centre where visitors and students can explore Victorian art, social history, craft and design.
William De Morgan (1839 – 1917) was the foremost ceramic designer of the Arts & Crafts Movement and his brilliant lustreware pots and decorative tiles continue to be highly sought after today. William's rediscovery of lustre – an iridescent glaze - and designs inspired by Medieval and Eastern imagery were hugely influential upon decorative arts of the 19th century.
Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) was one of the most significant and influential female artists of her generation. Like Mary Watts, Evelyn was among the first women to gain access to professional art tuition at the recently opened Slade School of Art. Evelyn won many medals and awards at the Slade and was invited to exhibit at the opening exhibition of the influential Grosvenor Gallery, alongside established artists Edward Burne-Jones, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and G F Watts. Evelyn expressed admiration for Watts's paintings, and Watts felt a great admiration for Evelyn's work, writing: 'I look upon her as the first woman artist of the day — if not of all time.' A shared interest in subjects ranging from social improvement to mythology and spiritualism can be seen in both artists' work.