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Tile with five ruby birds: EC.5-1941

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Tile with five ruby birds


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




Square buff earthenware tile, covered with white slip and decorated with ruby and pink lustre. Divided into nine squares, alternating large-beaked birds with beady eye and raised wing and box-tree sprays. The earthenware is quite coarse and the sides of the tile rough and unglazed.


History note: Given by Mr H C Mossop, 1941

Legal notes

Given by Mr H C Mossop

Measurements and weight

Width: 15.5 cm
Width: 6.125 in

Place(s) associated

  • Fulham ⪼ London ⪼ England
  • Chelsea ⪼ London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


Late 19th Century
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 and Persian pottery and using them for a range of complex fantasy designs featuring ships, birds, flora and animals. This design dates from 1872-81, when De Morgan was first producing lustre-ware in Chelsea. The tile was made later, at Sands End, Fulham, when he was in partnership with the architect Halsey Ricardo. The coarse earthenware and rough sides indicate that the tile was intended for a fireplace or other architectural use. De Morgan made many, many designs for tiles and tile panels – some 820 are in the V&A collection.

School or Style

Arts and Crafts (movement)

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of lustre ( pink and ruby) clear glaze

Materials used in production

coarse, buff-coloured Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Slip-coating : Earthenware, slip-coated, glazed and decorated with lustre

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: in a circle surrounding a rosette

  • Location: On reverse
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: 5/1941
  • Location: On reverse
  • Method of creation: Circular white paper, handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.5-1941
Primary reference Number: 15315
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Tile with five ruby birds" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-02-06 07:59:51

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{{cite web|url= |title=Tile with five ruby birds |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-02-06 07:59:51|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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