William de Morgan (1839-1917) was an English potter, tile designer and novelist. Here I devote some space to raving about his tile designs. de Morgan was a trained artist, but he struggled for years to perfect the technical aspects of making tiles. It was not until 1873-1874 he came across the technique of making lustreware on the same principles used for making Moorish pottery and Italian maiolica. Having found the right technique he submerged himself in design inspiration originating in Syria and Turkey in Medieval times. The outcome was to be known as William de Morgan’s ‘Persian’ look.
The designs that de Morgan had been inspired by were produced at Damaskus in Syria from the 13th century and Iznik in Turkey from the late 15th century. It is today known as Iznik pottery. de Morgan was in great awe of the sage green, turquoise blue, manganese purple, reds and yellows they utilized. He was also an admirer of the motifs and hence picked up on the use of spectacular creatures (often peacocks) and florals in his designs.
de Morgan ‘Persian’ tiles were made at various factory locations in London until 1907. His business was all along struggling financially and he left the business in 1907 leaving employees in charge. Apparently he said at the time that “All my life I have been trying to make beautiful things, and now that I can make them nobody wants them”. Presumably meaning that fashion had moved on. Being a multi-skilled person he turned to writing novels.
William de Morgan’s tiles can be found at a number of museums. These shown here I came across during a visit to the British Museum. A sight for sore eyes for sure.