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Tile panel with dragon-bird grotesques: EC.4-1941

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Tile panel with dragon-bird grotesques


Maker: William De Morgan & Co.
Designer: De Morgan, William Frend




Tile panel comprising twenty earthenware tiles, each slip-coated, glazed and painted in ruby lustre. Six central tiles forming a repeat pattern of dragon-bird grotesques and foliage. Ten rectangular border tiles with flowing flower and leaf pattern. Four square corner tiles each with a flower. All painted in ruby lustre on a ground of white slip. The lustre has been fired to different depths of colour, in general the larger central tiles being darker than the border.


History note: Given by H.C.Mossop, 1941

Legal notes

Given by H.C.Mossop, 1941

Place(s) associated

  • Merton Abbey ⪼ London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1941-03-26) by Mossop, H. C.


19th Century, Late#
Circa 1888 CE - 1898 CE


William Frend De Morgan (1839-1917), now widely regarded as the most important ceramicist of the Arts & Crafts movement, also worked in stained glass and became a successful novelist. The son of a non-conformist mathematics professor, he became a close friend of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and married the Pre-Raphaelite painter Evelyn Pickering (1855-1919), in 1887. As a ceramicist, De Morgan was primarily a designer/decorator and chemist, working on bought-in blanks or pots thrown to his design. He experimented widely with techniques and glazes, re-discovering methods for making and applying lustres and the colours of Iznik pottery and using them for a range of complex fantasy designs featuring ships, birds, flora and animals. De Morgan made many, many designs for tiles and tile panels – some 820 are in the V&A collection. His early work was produced on industrially-made blanks, notably from Wedgwood and from the Architectural Pottery Co., Poole. Although hand-made tiles were later made in-house he continued to use bought-in glazed tiles for standard designs in lustre which sometimes lead to uneven copper lustre effects, as in this panel. The central design (which is made from two tile designs, reversed and repeated) , in blue, is in the V&A collection: E.529-1917, box 105B. The border design is also found on other tile panels. The V&A designs suggest the panel was made when De Morgan operated from Sands End, Fulham, from 1888-98. A contemporary price list includes he sold another 8x24 inch tile panel for 42/- (two pounds two shillings).

School or Style

Arts and Crafts (movement)

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lustre
Front composed of glaze slip
Long Border Tiles Length 15.25 cm Width 5.1 cm
Central Tiles Square 15.25 cm
Corner Tiles Square 5.1 cm

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Dust-pressing : Industrially-produced, dust-pressedwhite earthenware, slip-coated and lustred

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: on large tiles

  • Text: C
  • Location: On the back
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: on all tiles

  • Text: ENGLAND/5367
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: on long border tiles

  • Text: No.43
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.4-1941
Primary reference Number: 15314
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Tile panel with dragon-bird grotesques" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-23 06:57:38

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