Posted 29th August 2018
G F Watts & Evelyn De Morgan
"I look upon Evelyn De Morgan as the first woman artist of the day — if not of all time" - G F Watts.
It is no accident that Evelyn De Morgan and G F Watts had similar artistic and political interests and pursuits.
John Roddam Spencer Stanhope was a late Victorian painter closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He painted beautiful fresco and tempera pieces in a Symbolist and Aesthetic style and was heavily influenced by Old Master painters and the art and landscape of his home in Italy.
Whilst studying at Oxford, Spencer Stanhope sought out G F Watts as a tutor and the two artists travelled together in Italy and Asia-Minor in the 1850s before Spencer Stanhope returned to Oxford and worked on the murals depicting Arthurian Legend for the Debating Chamber of the Oxford University Union Society project with Rossetti. It is clear that Watts' tutoring had a lasting impression on Spencer Stanhope. His paintings are often executed in a manor which recalls fresco and his thick use of paint is particularly reminiscent of his masters.
Spencer Stanhope was the uncle of Evelyn De Morgan and acted as her tutor whilst she was training to become an artist at the National Art Training School in South Kensington and at the Slade School of Art. Many of Evelyn's early paintings, whilst she worked closely with her uncle, are very stylistically similar to his paintings and borrow from the Aesthetic style.
Through her uncle, Evelyn was able to meet G F Watts and travelled to Limnerslease regularly to visit the artist. This relationship was collaborative and coersive as the two artists would discuss ideas on art and their social and political ideas. The tackling of the subject of The Worship of Mammon by both artists shows their unrest with the worship of wealth and material culture before spiritual enlightenment, something which they had a shared passion for through their spiritualist and religious beliefs.
These artistic and familiar relationships between these three artists allow for a deeper understanding and appreciation of artists working together and sharing ideas. It is wonderful to be able to display such a fine collection of paintings by Evelyn De Morgan at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village alongside paintings by her close friend G F Watts.
Curator, De Morgan Foundation
You can find out more about the De Morgan Foundation on their website.