Art Wednesday

William de Morgan: 1839-1917 (member of the Arts and Crafts Movement)

William de Morgan was a prolific potter and an excellent designer with his achievements in the world of design varied from stained glass to furniture painting, but he is probably most celebrated for the glorious Persian, Iznik, and figurial designs which he recreated onto tiles and ceramics (see below).  His works are so full of colour and life - I particularly like his works.

Born in Chester on 16th November 1839 to an intellectual family, De Morgan’s father, Augustus was a professor of Mathematics and his wife Sophia Elizabeth Freud was well known for campaigning with Elizabeth Fry to promote prison reform.

At 20 he enrolled with the Royal Academy Schools to learn and progress his talent - this is where he met William Morris (the guy who designed wallpaper) and a founding member of the Arts and Craft Movement.  Briefly, the Arts and Craft movement was to do with handcrafted decorative works of art which began in the 1860's and ended in the 1920's. It was a reaction to the overtly industrial society that was flourishing by the 1850s.  Ruskin, for example, Ruskin railed against the industrial construction of furniture and everyday decorative objects because they lacked spirit and artistry. (for more on de Morgan information)

Lustered earthenware: Beasts and dogs among stylized foliate motifs in a ruby luster on an ivory ground decorate this vase by William De Morgan. (source) He is also renowned for using lustre glazes which were discovered almost by accident. De Morgan realised that the silver outlines painted on his stained glass produced an iridescent effect when fired, so he experimented using this technique on tiles which resulted in the same desired effect.
Two handed vase in one of the typical blues used by de Morgan (source)
Pottery tondino plate, 1890
One of the many tiles de Morgan designed - used in homes around Britain
Blue Peony tiles from de Morgan's Persian era - de Morgan was particular drawn to Eastern designs and he began to work in earnest with a “Persian” palette: dark blue, turquoise, manganese purple, green, Indian red, and lemon yellow.


Galleon Tiles

He died at the age of 78 from Trench Fever

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  1. Jo,

    Since you have focused most of your "Art Wednesday's" on paintings, it was a nice surprise to have you discuss an art form that was not on the canvas.

    De Morgan was obviously very stylish and detailed with his art work upon tiles and pottery. I'm not saying that his work is a particular favorite of mine, but it's definately lovely to look at.


    -Lady Rose

  2. Thanks...just awesome,I so love learning from you! These are just so beautiful and I want to just stop life and study art after coming to your post
    I love the Art and Craft period...especially the homes. I want my son to build one for me one day...he is a home builder.

  3. Lovely pieces of art Jo!

    On a 'side' note... I love the updated photos of your baby's in the side bar. Charlie looked so cute as a baby! And still is cute just that kittens melt my heart ;)

  4. I loved reading about William de Morgan, what a wonderful artisan. The colours and designs are wonderful

    Have a beautiful Thursday. xxxx

  5. Thanks for stopping by my post today. I understand your country doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, but do you have any time in the year or holiday that you have a giving thanks focus?
    We read about our countries beginning, but go beyond that to thanking God for all his blessings throughout the year. If you noticed two of the things we do to celebrate focus only on being thankful.
    I love learning about all of God's creation and what others do.
    Just wondering.

  6. Your art posts remind me, Jo, how often I look at beautiful things and don't consider the history behind them. These pieces are lovely, and your post has been a fascinating read. Thank you!

  7. Janette@Janette's Sage

    No, we have nothing similar in Australia to the American Thanksgiving Day. Australia was settled quite differently to the USA - Britain used this country as a place to put convicts and soldiers (to guard them), perhaps not the best way to start the birth of a new nation. I am sure these convicts were thankful for very little as so many didn’t survive. Beyond the convicts it was such a struggle in this foreign land so far from mother Britain with a climate that was alien to the new settlers.

    However when my own family arrived from Germany in the 1850’s, they were escaping persecution — however they brought no customs of thanksgiving that has survived today. They settled in small communities and tried to rebuilt their lives through hard work.

    It is interesting how customs either continue or disappear.

  8. I knew the history behind your country...we have had so many young people come to your country and I have taught about it in our home school...I just don't think about other countries not having a season of Thanksgiving...meaning just a time of thankfulness.
    Still each day we all have is a day of Thanksgiving...we have breath to breathe...thanks for sharing and for letting me learn from you and your wonderful country.

  9. Hi, you used an early version of my blue peony scroll based on William De Morgan's design. The original background was blue, by the way. I changed it to white because so many customer's asked for it. Do you think you could attribute it and provide a link?


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