Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919)

Evelyn de Morgan (born Evelyn Pickering) studied at the Slade school, where she was one of the earliest female students, and then went to live in Italy for some time with her uncle, the painter Spencer Stanhope. On her return to Britain, her painting Ariadne in Naxos won great acclaim, and she established herself as a painter of symbolic pictures based on classical mythology. She married William de Morgan, the potter.

Evelyn de Morgan's work is clearly much influenced by Burne-Jones, and along with the pictures of her contemporaries Marianne Stokes, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale and Mrs Young Hunter, has much in it of the Pre-Raphaelites. However, de Morgan was also a convert to the Florentine school from her time in Italy, and she especially admired Botticelli. Her soft, fresco-like colours used in figural pictures such as Flora show this influence. Many of her pictures concentrate on just one or two figures, large on the canvas, typically placed on the landscape rather than in it. Her best pictures are the earlier classical subjects in this style. Later, she achieved a greater delicacy of colour, but her compositions became more erratic, and she went into a rapid decline before the First World War, her later pictures being most disappointing.

The large Aurora Triumphans is in the Russell Cotes Museum, Bournemouth, and in London there are two highly-worked figural studies in Leighton House. Further work is at the De Morgan Foundation. A portrait by her of her husband is at the National Portrait Gallery.

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