Tuesday 16 May 2017

Evelyn De Morgan

Rain kept us from outdoor chores this afternoon so we took advantage of the uncooperative weather for a quick visit to our closest National Trust property, Wightwick Manor.

We know the house well as it's only a ten minute drive from home but we'd read that, since our last visit, the Trust had converted the Malthouse into a gallery space. The inaugural exhibition features the paintings of Evelyn De Morgan and the ceramics of her husband William.

The exhibits are on loan from the De Morgan Collection and most of the paintings I've never seen before. Evelyn was one of the first women to attend the Slade School of Art but it seems the greatest influence on her work was that of her uncle, John Spencer Stanhope and of course Edward Burne-Jones of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Grey Sisters was painted around 1880.

The Grey Sisters - detail.

The Grey Sisters - detail.
Like Burne-Jones, the artist certainly loved a bit of drapery!

Many of the paintings displayed were concerned with sleep and death. This one is indeed called, Sleep and Death: children of the night. 1883.

Venus and Cupid painted in 1878.

I'm sure I've posted this image before when I saw it in exhibition a few years ago. Evelyn's Flora is reminiscent of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and his Primavera and it shows her love of Italian art - she made many trips to Florence where her uncle lived.

Here's a detail of Flora which I thought was exquisite!

But, perhaps surprisingly, my favourite piece was this study in charcoal and pencil on a humble sheet of brown paper. Drawn in 1906 it really shows what a brilliant draftswoman she was.

I have lots more photos and I suppose I should show some of the ceramics but this is in danger of becoming a lecture so I'll post them another time!

The visit was definitely a lovely way to pass a couple of hours - I'd encourage you to go and see the paintings for yourself if you can!

Linda x


  1. Thank you! I've long admired William de Morgan's work, his use of potentially negative space is amazing, but I had no idea of the skill of Evelyn De Morgan. Wightwick Manor is now on the 'Must visit' list.

  2. Hi Linda - if you've never seen the manor house I know you'll love it. Lots more exceptional art in there as well as all the Arts and Crafts textiles and wall coverings. It's a must see!