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Tile panel with dragon-bird grotesques

Maker(s) &

William De Morgan & Co., maker, England, London, Merton Abbey, .

De Morgan, William Frend, designer, British artist, 1832-1917


William Frend De Morgan (1839-1917), now widely regarded as the most important ceramicist of the Arts & Crafts movement, also worked in stained glass and became a successful novelist. The son of a non-conformist mathematics professor, he became a close friend of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and married the Pre-Raphaelite painter Evelyn Pickering (1855-1919), in 1887. As a ceramicist, De Morgan was primarily a designer/decorator and chemist, working on bought-in blanks or pots thrown to his design. He experimented widely with techniques and glazes, re-discovering methods for making and applying lustres and the colours of Iznik pottery and using them for a range of complex fantasy designs featuring ships, birds, flora and animals. De Morgan made many, many designs for tiles and tile panels – some 820 are in the V&A collection. His early work was produced on industrially-made blanks, notably from Wedgwood and from the Architectural Pottery Co., Poole. Although hand-made tiles were later made in-house he continued to use bought-in glazed tiles for standard designs in lustre which sometimes lead to uneven copper lustre effects, as in this panel. The central design (which is made from two tile designs, reversed and repeated) , in blue, is in the V&A collection: E.529-1917, box 105B. The border design is also found on other tile panels. The V&A designs suggest the panel was made when De Morgan operated from Sands End, Fulham, from 1888-98. A contemporary price list includes he sold another 8x24 inch tile panel for 42/- (two pounds two shillings).


earthenware; lustreware; Art Pottery


tile panel


circa 1888 1898


Arts and Crafts (movement)


late 19th Century


Tile panel comprising twenty earthenware tiles, each slip-coated, glazed and painted in ruby lustre. Six central tiles forming a repeat pattern of dragon-bird grotesques and foliage. Ten rectangular border tiles with flowing flower and leaf pattern. Four square corner tiles each with a flower. All painted in ruby lustre on a ground of white slip. The lustre has been fired to different depths of colour, in general the larger central tiles being darker than the border.


dust-pressing; whole
slip-coating; front
glazing (coating); front
lustre-painting; decoration; ruby


white earthenware; whole
slip; front
glaze; front
lustre; decoration


industrially-produced, dust-pressedwhite earthenware, slip-coated and lustred


square, central tiles, 15.25, cm, square
length, long border tiles, 15.25, cm
width, long border tiles, 5.1, cm
square, corner tiles, 5.1, cm, square


given; 1941-03-26; Mossop, H. C.


Given by H.C.Mossop, 1941


De Morgan, Evelyn
Morris, William
Burne-Jones, Edward


This tile panel was reproduced on a notecard for sale in the Museum Shop, 2005

Acquisition Credit:

Given by H.C.Mossop, 1941


mark; on the back; C; on large tiles
mark; on back; impressed; ENGLAND/5367; on all tiles
mark; on back; impressed; No.43; on long border tiles


Gaunt, W.. Clayton-Stamm, M.D.E.. 1971. William De Morgan.London?: p. 22
Ref. For details of method and decorating tiles.

Greenwood, Martin. 1989. The Designs of William De Morgan.Ilminster: p. 147
Cf. design no.E.529-1917, two-tile design for this central panel, labelled ‘Fulham’.

Catleugh, Jon. 1983. William De Morgan Tiles.London?: p. pp. 169, 146
Cf. p. 169, pl. 264 similar red lustre border tiles, labelled ‘Merton Abbey’; p. 146, pl. 231, the design for two of the centre tiles, labelled 'probably Merton Abbey'. See also pp.66-71 and 84-87 re De Morgan’s flower and animal designs.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House. 2002. The Ceramics of William De Morgan.Bowness-on-Windermere: Lakeland Arts Trust

1972. William De Morgan (1839-1917): an exhibition organised by the Friends of Leighton House, Leighton House, 18 May-24 June, London: De Morgan Foundation, 197.London: De Morgan Foundation

Related Object(s):

C.1-1976; Tile panel with blue peacocks
EC.7-1941; Tile with ‘Clyde’ daisy design (2)
EC.8-1941; Tile with ‘Clyde’ daisy design (1)
C.236-2015; Tile panel with red lustre galleon


Object Number: EC.4-1941
(Applied Arts)
(record id: 15314; input: 2000-11-02; modified: 2016-10-03)


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