De Morgan Foundation brings Victorian artwork into the digital age

Breathing new life into its impressive collection, the De Morgan Foundation are undertaking some exciting projects to bring Victorian artwork to the modern world.

A new website and the launch of the collection on Google Arts & Culture will introduce the unparalleled collection of works by William (1839 – 1917) and his wife Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) to an international audience. This goes alongside new exhibitions at Cannon Hall, Watts Gallery and Wightwick Manor.

Evelyn De Morgan, a radical feminist and spiritualist painter, redeveloped the Pre-Raphaelite style with her richly coloured canvases. Defying expectations of her class and gender, Evelyn was regarded by her contemporaries as “the greatest woman painter of today and possibly of all time.” Her husband, William, also became the leading ceramicist of William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement.

The De Morgan Foundation was first established by Evelyn’s younger sister, Wilhelmina Stirling, who made it her life’s work to collect her sister and brother-in-law’s artwork. Despite its vast size, comprising some 60 oils paintings and 800 ceramics, most of the collection has remained locked away in storage since 1965.

Today, the Foundation launches, the new digital home for the De Morgan artworks. Visitors can fully search the extensive collection, discover history, shop, and book events on this new platform.

Only yesterday the foundation also launched its paintings on Google Arts & Culture. The Google Art Camera captured high resolution images of Evelyn’s dazzling paintings, enabling a worldwide audience to see them in fresh detail.

“The images available are so detailed that even conservators haven’t seen these delectable oils in such detail before,” revealed the Foundation.

Three major exhibitions held across three UK partner museums continue to highlight unseen aspects of the duo’s fascinating artwork.

At Cannon Hall in Barnsley, the exhibition ‘A Family of Artists’ showcases paintings made by Evelyn between 1883-4 whilst she worked with her uncle, the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope in West Yorkshire.

Decoration or Devotion?’ at the Watts Gallery in Surrey explores how and why Evelyn’s meaningful Spiritualist pictures greatly differ from William’s purely decorative appropriation of global culture and aesthetics.

And opening this weekend, ‘Look Beneath the Lustre’ at Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton invites visitors to discover the De Morgan’s intriguing design processes. More preparatory drawings and sketches by the husband and wife duo will be on display than ever before.

This truly is the summer that brings brilliant De Morgan artwork to the modern, digital world.

Main image credit: Cadence of Autumn, 1906, By Evelyn De Morgan, Wightwick Manor, © De Morgan Foundation

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