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Tile with dragon design: C.144-1933

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Tile with dragon design


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




Square buff earthenware tile with a bas relief dragon design, covered with white slip, painted under-glaze in shades of green and blue, and clear glazed. The dragon is covered in green scales; it has a long, curling yellow tongue, sharp red teeth and a large, yellow and blue, beady eye. Its head is turned back, such that the design fills the square surface; the background is covered with stylised, scrolling foliage. Three sides of the tile have been smoothed, and none of the sides is glazed.


History note: Bequeathed by Guy Le Strange

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Guy Le Strange

Measurements and weight

Height: 15.25 cm
Height: 6 in
Width: 15.25 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Chelsea ⪼ England
  • Merton Abbey ⪼ London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933) by Le Strange, Guy


19th Century, Late#
Circa 1872 CE - 1881 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. The original design for this tile is held in the V&A collection (V. & A. E.613-1917, Box C.144); it has no foliage in the background and is inscribed 'Chelsea' on the back, indicating it dates from 1872-81, when De Morgan was based at Cheyne Row, Chelsea. However, it is possible the tile was made later, as most of his known relief tiles were made at Sands End, Fulham, in partnership with the architect Halsey Ricardo, from 1888-97. 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 ceramic pigment
Front composed of glaze slip

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Moulding : Buff earthenware, moudled in relief, covered with white slip, and painted in shades of blue, green, and red.

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.144-1933
Primary reference Number: 72008
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

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