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Tile with green duck design: EC.14-1941

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Tile with green duck design


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




Square earthenware tile, covered in white slip, decorated in green and glazed. The monochrome green, under-glaze design of a two-headed fantasy duck surrounded by stylised leaves has been applied by transfer, and covers the whole upper surface. At the top of the tile is a horizontal line, and at bottom left the back of another duck, as if the image has been cut from a larger design. The glaze is clear and crackled.The back and the sides are unglazed.


History note: Given by Mr H C Mossop

Legal notes

Given by Mr H C Mossop

Measurements and weight

Depth: 0.6 cm
Square: 7.6 cm
Square: 3 in

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#
1882 CE - 1888 CE


This tile has been produced using De Morgan’s invention of tracing and painting the design onto paper which burned away in the kiln, leaving the design fixed under the glaze. The design has been cut down from that used on another tile in the Fitzwilliam collection (EC.9-1941), the original of which held in the V&A collection (V. & A. E.952-1917, Box C.145). According to Jon Catleugh, the design dates from the period when De Morgan was based in Chelsea from 1872 to 1882. However, the mark indicates that this tile was produced later, when De Morgan’s workshop was at Merton Abbey (1882-88). The tile is unusually small – De Morgan usually worked on 6x6 inch blanks (or sometimes 4-12 ins. – see Gaunt), but the Fitzwilliam holds another, similarly coloured, three inch tile where the pattern has been cut down. Possibly these were test pieces or samples. De Morgan made many, many designs for tiles and tile panels – some 820 are in the V&A collection.

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.

School or Style

Arts and Crafts (movement)

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of transfers ( green) clear glaze

Materials used in production

buff-coloured Earthenware

Techniques used in production

Slip-coating : Earthenware, slip-coated and decorated with a transfer design, glazed

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: small, oval Merton Abbey seal

  • Location: On back of tile
  • Method of creation: Impressed
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: 1941 / 14
  • Location: On back of tile
  • Method of creation: Circular paper label handwritten in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: EC.14-1941
Primary reference Number: 15378
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Tile with green duck design" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-20 00:28:07

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