#DeMorganWeek: William De Morgan

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Posted 7th September 2019

William De Morgan

Sarah Hardy
Curator, De Morgan Foundation

William De Morgan was inspired by the huge influx of 'Islamic' and 'Persian' decorative arts from across the Middle East and Asia being collected and exhibited in the late-19th century. The Islamic 'ogee' (double S shape), the jagged saz leaf popularised in 16th-century Turkish Iznik ware, and the long-necked dragons of Asia, are peppered over the surface of the ceramics.

Owing to his playful imagination and astute comprehension of adapting a 2D pattern for a 3D ceramic surface, William stripped cultural signifiers of meaning for aesthetic gain. The winding neck of an Asian dragon was simply used to cover wide spaces with an interesting pattern, stripped of its value as a symbol of power, strength and good luck in Chinese culture.

Learn more about William's use of symbol in the De Morgan exhibition Decoration or Devotion?, now open daily at the Watts Gallery - Artists' Village.

Header image: William De Morgan, Fighting Beasts with Serpent Dish, 1872-97

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