A Marriage of Arts & Crafts: Evelyn & William De Morgan, opening October 22 at the Delaware Art Museum (DelArt), introduces an underrecognized Pre-Raphaelite “power couple.” Artists Evelyn and William De Morgan moved in influential cultural circles, shared an interest in spiritualism, and engaged in social issues in Victorian England. As two artists who encouraged one another’s creative pursuits, their union redefined Victorian marriage as a working partnership.
Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1855–1919) produced richly symbolic paintings. She traveled widely, studying early Italian Renaissance art, which became a touchstone of her mature work. Her art combined Pre-Raphaelite painting techniques with compositions drawn from Sandro Botticelli and distinctly modern subjects. Many of Evelyn’s painted allegories champion women’s independence, addressing issues that remain at the forefront of contemporary dialogues.
Encouraged by Arts & Crafts pioneer William Morris, William De Morgan (1839–1917) drew on his scientific knowledge to experiment in stained glass and tile production, opening his own pottery firm and creating innovative lusterware ceramics.
The De Morgans worked at the center of the Pre-Raphaelite, Arts and Crafts, and Aesthetic movements, and engaged politically with socialist, suffragist, and pacifist circles. Yet the De Morgan name is not well known — William perhaps because he produced decorative arts, a genre historically regarded as inferior to fine arts, and Evelyn because of her gender. A Marriage of Arts & Crafts aims to correct this oversight by showcasing paintings and ceramics from the collection of the De Morgan Foundation in Guilford, UK.
Also on view at DelArt, Forgotten Pre-Raphaelites highlights rarely seen works on paper by lesser-known artists affiliated with the Pre-Raphaelite circle. With these two exhibitions, DelArt hopes to help recover these underrecognized artists from the margins of art history and position them at the center of the Pre-Raphaelite narrative.
A Marriage of Arts & Crafts: Evelyn & William De Morgan is on view at the Delaware Art Museum from October 22 through February 19, 2023.
For more information, visit delart.org.