A History of the De Morgan Family
Evelyn De Morgan was determined to become an artist and wasn’t ready to let anyone stand in her way.
Her well-to-do parents wanted ‘a daughter not an artist’ and society wasn’t willing to accept women as painters.
But Evelyn showed talent from a young age. A talent her uncle Roddam Spencer Stanhope spotted and encouraged. Roddam was himself an artist and took inspiration from his Cannon Hall home to make beautiful pictures.
By the time she was just 20 years old, Evelyn was exhibiting her paintings alongside uncle Roddam at top London Galleries and selling them to Lords and MPs. She continued to be a successful artist throughout her life.
In 1887, she married the potter William De Morgan, adding another artist to the family. In addition to the beautiful tiles, pots and vases William De Morgan decorated with lustre glazes, he was a Suffragist and campaigned for women’s rights, encouraging Evelyn to continue painting.
A potter? William De Morgan by Rob Young
Evelyn’s sister, Wilhelmina Stirling, adored the artworks of her family and collected as many pieces as she could and forming the De Morgan Collection which she left to the public in her will.
Today, the De Morgan Collection is displayed in a museum within Cannon Hall to celebrate these Victorian artists’ links to the Spencer Stanhope family who once called this beautiful museum home.
The De Morgan Gallery
Located on the top floor of Cannon Hall is the De Morgan Museum, where treasures from the internationally-renowned De Morgan Collection are free for you and your family to enjoy.
A highlight is The Women of Sorrento by Roddam Spencer Stanhope which he painted in Italy, a country which would become his home from 1880.
Roddam Spencer Stanhope was a friend and collaborator of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artists. He worked with Dante Gabriel Rossetti on the Oxford Debating Chamber Murals and welcomed William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones to his home in Cawthorne.
He was proud of his home and heritage and decorated many churches in the area for the local community, often featuring his own artworks and and commissions of stained glass from his friend, the famous designer William Morris.
In 1883, Evelyn De Morgan was commissioned by her ever-supportive uncle Roddam to decorate the organ panels at Cawthorne Church. She experimented with different techniques to her usual oil painting for the organ panels, probably with her uncle’s guidance as he was a celebrated tempura (pigment and egg yolk paint), watercolour and oil painter. She decided upon painted gesso – rabbit skin glue mixed with chalk – for the panels and practiced with this medium on her Medusa Roundel. She built up the gesso to make a relief face, before painting this in gold.
Bust of a Faun (The God Pan) - William De Morgan
William De Morgan’s fantastical pottery is exemplified by his Bust of the God Pan on display in the De Morgan Museum. It is a rare work that was modelled in three dimensions. Most of his designs are painted on flat surfaces.
Find out more HERE
William De Morgan didn’t just make pots. He was a classically trained artist who was particularly good at painting the human form and imagining scenes from the bible or mythology. His dragon cabinet is now on display at Cannon Hall. It depicts a scene from the legend of St George and the Dragon.
You can discover more about De Morgan’s love of dragons in this video
You can visit the De Morgan Museum at Cannon Hall or online with our 360º tour
The De Morgan collection will be going on a tour of the USA later this year. Your LAST CHANCE to see it at Cannon Hall is Monday 29th August. Find out more here, https://bit.ly/3zHzpyK.