EVELYN DE MORGAN (BRITISH, 1855 - 1919)
Evelyn de Morgan is identified as one of the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood who is now regarded as an icon of female painting.
Evelyn was educated at home and started drawing lessons when she was 15. On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Evelyn recorded in her diary, "Art is eternal, but life is short…" "I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose." She went on to persuade her parents to let her go to art school. At first they discouraged it, but in 1873 she was enrolled at the Slade School of Art which was a great achievement at the time. Evelyn was one of the first three female artists to be admitted and was therefore a trailblazer in quashing the myth that women were not physically able to become professional artists.
She was also a pupil of her uncle John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, who was a great influence on her works. Beginning in 1875, Evelyn often visited him in Florence where he lived. This also enabled her to study the great artists of the Renaissance; she was particularly fond of the works of Botticelli, an influence that comes through very strongly in her major works. She was one of the first exhibitors at the Grosvenor Gallery, the avant-garde alternative to the Royal Academy. She was a fine draughtswoman and her drawings are often mistaken for those of her male contemporaries, Frederic Leighton and Burne-Jones. Though identified as a Pre-Raphaelite, there are elements of her work that ridicule the movement. She intentionally depicted Jane Morris, Rossetti’s muse, as an old lady pondering the passing of time in the 1905 work TheHourglassa reaction to the objectivism of women
In August 1883, Evelyn met the prominent ceramicist William De Morgan, and on 5 March 1887, they married. They spent their lives together in London. De Morgan, a pacifist was deeply spiritual, expressed her horror at the First World War and South African War in over fifteen war paintings including The Red Cross and S.O.S.
Relative to artistic pursuits, money was unimportant to the De Morgans; any profits from sales of Evelyn's paintings went toward financing William's pottery business and she actively contributed ideas to his ceramics designs.
Two years after his death in 1917, she died on 2 May 1919 in London and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, Surrey