William de Morgan and His Wife

William de Morgan and His Wife

William de Morgan and His Wife

William de Morgan and His Wife

Excerpt

I am not sure if it was in the autumn of 1859 or the spring of 1860, when I was working in the schools of the Royal Academy, that a tall, rather gaunt young man arrived as a nouveau, who excited among us of a term's seniority some interest. He was an original, that was evident at starting. His capacious forehead denoted power, his grey eyes tenderness, his delicately formed nose refinement, and his jaw strength. But the commanding characteristic was unmistakably humour. He spoke with a curious accent, his voice, as if it had never quite settled to be soprano or bass, moved with flexibility up and down the scale, and every sentence was finished with a certain drawl. This was a trait caught by many of Rossetti's friends. This youth was William de Morgan, son of the celebrated mathematician and his wife, a distinguished lady, highly cultivated, intimate friend of Carlyle and other leaders of the thought of the times, and much loved by her friends.

He came into the schools at a brilliant moment. Fred Walker, that delicately organized genius, was his senior by one term. Albert Moore, perhaps the most classic painter of the time, was already drawing with great taste in the schools and making noble designs, some pre-Raphaelite, some classical. Andrew Donaldson promised much as a student. Henry Holiday was precocious; but the greatest genius of our set was S. Solomon, that wonderful little Jew who might have risen to any height of distinction if he had chosen to encourage his great gifts. I was the youngest of the group which was composed of ardent young men furnished with ability and determination to labour hard to deserve distinction. It was in this coterie that William De Morgan found himself welcomed. From the day I first shook hands with him till the last, when he sat beside me in sickness, we were close and staunch friends.

As an Academic artist he did not count for much: his genius did not lie in a groove or grooves. His early work was as a designer for stained glass; I have seen some very interesting . . .

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