The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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William de Morgan, 1839-1917

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1839.11.16
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death: 1917.01.15
Place of Death: London


William de Morgan was a painter, stained glass and tile designer, potter and novelist. He married the painter Evelyn Pickering in 1887.


De Morgan studied at F. S. Cary's art school in Bloomsbury and at the Royal Academy Schools. He began his career designing stained glass and furniture panels for the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. He also made pottery in his own kiln at Cheyne Row, Chelsea, where he was a neighbour of JW. In 1873 he opened a separate studio and showroom, the Orange House, in Chelsea. His tiles were notable for their bird, animal and floral designs influenced by oriental and Renaissance ceramics. In 1879 he produced Islamic-inspired tiles for Frederic Leighton's Arab Hall at Leighton House.

In 1881 he moved his works to Merton Abbey, Surrey, with Morris and Co. From 1888 to 1898 the architect Halsey Ricardo acted as De Morgan's partner in his new pottery at Sands End, Fulham. De Morgan also painted a few pictures in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He became a founder-member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888. In 1907 he retired and began writing novels.

In 1891 JW exhibited Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. On 19 September 1891 Charles Dyall, curator of the gallery, wrote to JW that he had sold De Morgan's pictures the day previous and that the photograph of JW's painting in the catalogue would be replaced by a better one (#09062).


Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Pinkham, R., Catalogue of Pottery by William De Morgan, London, 1973; Catleugh, J., William De Morgan Tiles, London and New York, 1983; Greenwood, M., The Designs of William De Morgan, Shepton Beauchamp, 1989; Secondo, Joellen, 'William De Morgan', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 14 February 2003).