“A Marriage of Arts & Crafts: Evelyn & William De Morgan” showcases stunning Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Arts & Crafts ceramics.
This fall, the Delaware Art Museum (DelArt) will host the first retrospective exhibition of the work of Pre-Raphaelite painter Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1855-1919) and her husband, the stained glass and pottery designer William Frend De Morgan (1839-1917). Making its American debut at DelArt, the exhibition tells the story of this extraordinary creative couple, who engaged with the artistic and social movements of their day. Over 75 works introduce visitors to William’s shimmering, lustreware ceramics and Evelyn’s richly symbolic paintings, inspired by her deep engagement with Italian Renaissance art.
“We’re delighted to introduce audiences to a pair of nineteenth-century artists who intentionally integrated their artistic practices with their social and political commitments,” shares Sophie Lynford, DelArt’s recently appointed Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection. “Many of Evelyn’s painted allegories advocate women’s independence, powerfully addressing issues that remain at the forefront of contemporary dialogues.”
As artists, the De Morgans worked at the center of the Pre-Raphaelite, Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movements. Their political and social views also connected them with groups outside the art world including socialists, suffragists and pacifists. Yet the De Morgan name is not well known – William perhaps because he produced decorative arts, a genre which has historically been regarded as inferior to fine arts, and Evelyn because of her gender. Considering the two artists together allows for a comprehensive view of the expanded cultural milieu in which they functioned, not least regarding new attitudes towards Victorian marriage as a working partnership.
At DelArt, the exhibition will be accompanied by lectures during opening and closing weekends by Sarah Hardy, Curator of the De Morgan Foundation, and Dr. Margaretta Frederick, Curator Emerita at the Delaware Art Museum. Guided tours of the exhibition will be offered weekly on Saturdays at 1 p.m. On view concurrently, “The Forgotten Pre-Raphaelites” will explore work of lesser-known artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelite circle. A new Pre-Raphaelite art history course, with virtual and in-person options, will contextualize the era in which the De Morgans worked and highlight DelArt’s Bancroft collection, the largest Pre-Raphaelite holdings outside of the United Kingdom. “A Marriage of Arts & Crafts” sets the stage for another highly anticipated Pre-Raphaelite exhibition in Fall 2023: “The Rossettis,” organized in partnership with Tate Britain.
“We invite art lovers to join us at the Delaware Art Museum for this visually stunning exhibition,” welcomes DelArt Executive Director Molly Giordano. “We’re calling this The Year of Pre-Raphaelites, and we can’t wait to share the masterpieces, exhibitions, and programs celebrating this rich period of art history.”
Five years in the making, “A Marriage of Arts & Crafts: Evelyn & William De Morgan” is drawn from the collection of the De Morgan Foundation and is co-curated by Sarah Hardy, Curator, De Morgan Collection and Dr. Margaretta Frederick, Curator Emerita, Delaware Art Museum. Over 75 paintings, drawings and pots by this artist couple will be featured. The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware Library has also generously lent books and archival material for a special display within the exhibition highlighting William’s extraordinary transition from potter to successful novelist. The exhibition will subsequently travel to two further venues: the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA (September 2023-January 2024) and the Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg, FL (January 2024 – May 2024). A publication of essays will accompany the exhibition: Margaretta S. Frederick, ed. “Evelyn & William De Morgan: A Marriage of Arts & Crafts” (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022). Copies of the catalog will be available at the Delaware Art Museum Store this fall.
IF YOU GO:
What: “A Marriage of Arts & Crafts: Evelyn & William De Morgan”
When: October 22, 2022 – February 19, 2023
Lecture and Exhibition Preview on Friday evening, October 21.
Where: Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19803
Cost: Free with Museum admission ($14 adults)
Sponsors: This exhibition was organized by the Delaware Art Museum. This exhibition is made possible through support from the Nathan Clark Foundation and the Dr. Lee MacCormick Edwards Charitable Foundation. This organization is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com. The publication for this exhibition was made possible through a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.
About the Delaware Art Museum
For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the most comprehensive Pre-Raphaelite collection on display outside of the United Kingdom, and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.
Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media.