Wednesday, May 30, 2012

William De Morgan, Victorian Ceramicist

William De Morgan (1839-1917) was an English ceramicist, friend to William Morris and one of the mainstays of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In the 1860s he designed furniture and stained glass for Morris & Co. Through Morris he met the Pre-Raphaelites, including his wife, painter Evelyn De Morgan.

Morgan established his own pottery to manufacture his designs, but he was beset by technical difficulties and financial problems. In 1907 he finally abandoned the pottery and turned to writing novels, at which he was actually more successful than potting. Today, his pottery and especially his tiles are much beloved, but nobody can read his novels. Such is art.

I find De Morgan's tiles to be a perfect illustration of Morris' motto for the Arts & Crafts Movement, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

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