The multi-talented William De Morgan (1839-1917) began his career as a painter and stained glass artist, and became a famous novelist in later life. He devoted the years 1869 to 1907 to making pottery. He was a friend of William Morris (1834-96), and produced hand-decorated tiles and ceramics that complemented Morris's textiles and wallpapers. They were often used in Arts and Crafts interiors. This dish is a particularly good example of De Morgan's work. It was originally owned by the architect Halsey Ricardo (1854-1928), a close friend and associate of De Morgan.De Morgan's greatest source of inspiration was Islamic design. Sometimes he drew directly from early Persian ceramics; sometimes he studied European pottery that had been influenced by Islamic art, particularly fifteenth-century Spanish tin-glazed pottery. This bowl was clearly inspired by Spanish dishes painted with animal motifs. The vivid copper red lustre used for the decoration, however, was derived from a type of Italian maiolica (another form of tin-glazed earthenware) made at Gubbio in Italy during the sixteenth century.