Evelyn & William De Morgan: A Marriage of Arts & Crafts by Margaretta S Frederick (ed) - review by Peyton Skipwith

Peyton Skipwith

Love & Lustre

Evelyn & William De Morgan: A Marriage of Arts & Crafts

By

Yale University Press 176pp £35
 

Mary Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1855–1919) was something unique: a post Pre-Raphaelite painter. She was born seven years after the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and died eight years after Roger Fry’s ‘Manet and the Post Impressionists’ exhibition and five years after the publication of Wyndham Lewis’s revolutionary manifesto BLAST. Following her death, her estate, consisting of a substantial body of her unsold works and her husband’s unsold ceramics, passed to her sister, Wilhelmina Stirling, who lived at Old Battersea House in south London, which became a shrine to their joint memory. By the time Stirling died in 1965 at the age of ninety-nine, the Pre-Raphaelite revival was getting under way and William’s Persian-style glazed tiles and ceramics had already become highly desirable collectors’ pieces. He wrote in 1907, at the time of the closure of the pottery, ‘Now the tiles and pots have vanished like a dream and a very insolvent dream!’Peyton Skipwith

The dozen essays in this book detailing the lives and output of William De Morgan (1839–1917) and his wife, Evelyn, provide a fascinating record of the work of these two late-Victorian artists, both, in their different ways, anachronisms born out of time. William was a 19th-century enlightenment man,

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