Evelyn De Morgan
"Evelyn De Morgan is renowned for her oil paintings which are abundant with Pre-Raphaelite imagery, spiritualist symbolism and strong feminist undertones, but she also exhibited remarkable skills in drawing. The De Morgan Centre’s collections contain a significant number of Evelyn’s drawings and pastel studies for her paintings, which give a fascinating insight into her creative process.
In October 1991 a fire ravaged the Bourlet’s art storage unit where much of the De Morgan Foundation’s art collection was stored. In one night more than 15 paintings by Evelyn De Morgan and many other artworks were tragically destroyed – lost for future generations to admire. This exhibition will display drawings and studies for these lost paintings, alongside colour photographs taken during the preceding years in the art store, giving an unprecedented opportunity to discover more about these extraordinary works of art."
"William (1839-1917) and Evelyn (1855-1919) De Morgan were both highly respected artists in their own rights. They married in 1887 and in addition to their art, they became involved in many of the leading issues of the day including, prison reform, pacifism and spiritualism.
Spiritualism was a popular preoccupation of the upper-middle classes during the mid-nineteenth century and many influential figures of the art world, including GF Watts and John Ruskin, became interested. William De Morgan's mother Sophia was heavily involved within the movement and her published book From Matter to Spirit, became a standard work on the subject. William and Evelyn were heavily influenced by Sophia and this interest in spiritualism is profoundly apparent in Evelyn's later works. After their marriage Evelyn and William embarked on a long-term collaborative experiment with automatic writing. The result was a series of metaphorical and spiritual transcripts which they eventually published anonymously in 1909 under the title The Result of an Experiment. A copy of this work is in the British Library.
Together they were also involved with the Suffragette movement. Evelyn was a signatory for the "Declaration in Favour of Women's Suffrage" in 1889 and William showed his support by serving as Vice President of the "Men's League for Women's Suffrage" in 1913.
They were described by Sir Edward Poynter (President of the Royal Academy) as "...two of the rarest spirits of the Age."