William de Morgan (1839-1917)

William de Morgan is the most famous designer of pottery tiles of the arts and crafts movement. He also painted in a Pre-Raphaelite style, designed stained glass, and became a novelist, an occupation which became so lucrative that in the end he abandoned art. He started out as a stained glass designer, and only later became a potter, experimenting with glazes and rediscovering methods of making the intense greens and blues used in Majolica wares, and using these tints in new designs. He supplied William Morris from his kiln at his home in Chelsea, London, before moving his pottery works to Merton in 1881/2 and then to Fulham in 1886. He married Evelyn Pickering, the painter, in 1887.

William de Morgan's tiles were sometimes based on medieval designs, sometimes figural or scenic, or very art nouveau. Collections exist in many museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the William Morris Gallery in London, a substantial and representative collection in Birmingham, and a small but well-chosen collection along with much other pottery at Norwich. De Morgan's pottery at Fulham (Sands Ends Pottery) employed Frank Iles and the brothers Charles and Fred Passenger. These people continued to produce somewhat inferior de Morgan-style pottery until 1933, and a couple of specimens are in the Norwich collection.

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