Long before Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera or Gilbert and George, the Victorian era’s art power couple was William (1839-1917) and Evelyn De Morgan, née Pickering (1855-1919) – a pair of intriguing 19th and 20th-century British artists.
William De Morgan was undoubtedly the most intriguing and inventive ceramic designer of the late Victorian period. He was life-long friends with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and created stunning arts and crafts tiles and ceramics to complement their fashionable designs for interiors.
De Morgan was the son of a mathematician and had a classical art training at the Royal Academy School. As a result, he always underpinned his elaborate designs with geometric structures, borrowed from medieval design and Islamic art. These complex influences on his art are explored in this exhibition.
In 1887, he married professional artist Evelyn Pickering. Her remarkable paintings bear the influence of early Italian Renaissance art as well as that of her Pre-Raphaelite contemporaries, yet have a distinctive style all of their own. Her unique paintings also projected her political concerns – she was deeply affected by the outbreak of the First World War – and created many pictures in response to the conflict. The exhibition showcases her peace paintings and the preparatory drawings she made for them, giving an overview of her working process and ideals.