Media File
William Frend De Morgan
Date: British author, designer, and ceramicist, 1839–1917
Biography: DeMorgan aspired to be a painter as a young man, and enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in 1859. Unsuccessful in this endeavor, he left the RA Schools in 1862. It was during this period, however, that he developed what would be lifelong friendships with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It was probably Morris who encouraged him to design tiles and stained glass. Moving to west London in the early 1870s, where Morris and Burne-Jones also lived, he continued to develop is interest and skills in pottery. His started his first pottery at Orange House in 1873, quickly developing a scientific interest in glazes. He is credited with re-introducing the Renaissance technique of luster glazing in Britain.

When Morris moved his firm to Merton Abbey, DeMorgan followed, building his own business nearby. In addition to his glazes, his pots are noted for their design. Like Morris, he was “a painter who had turned to the decorative arts.” [Alan Crawford, DNB] In 1887 he married the pre-Raphaelite-style painter Evelyn Pickering. In 1889 he moved his pottery to Fulham, and partnered with the architect Halsey Ricardo. Although a particularly rich period in his career, by 1892 deMorgan was advised for health reasons to spend winters in a warmer climate. Difficulties in running the pottery from such a distance eventually led to the closing of the business around 1903-4.