William De MorganCirca 1880s

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum

The coppery-red iridescent, or luster, appearance on the decoration of this dish reflects Hispano-Moresque and Italian ceramic luster traditions of earlier centuries. Artist William de Morgan accidentally discovered the luster process while working on stained glass, experimented with and perfected it, and thus revived ceramic lusterware during the Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth century.

The decorative influence on this dish is clearly Middle Eastern, as shown by the peacock in the center and the Persian flowering foliage motif on the border. De Morgan was associated with English craftsman, poet, socialist, and leader of the Arts and Crafts movement William Morris, and joined him in revolutionizing the art of house decoration in England.

In 1905 de Morgan abandoned ceramics to write novels. His writing career was much more lucrative than his ceramic career, and when he died in 1917 he was noted mainly as a novelist. Today, however, his novels are all but forgotten, while his ceramic legacy endures.

Alfred Traber Goshorn, the first director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, donated this piece to the Art Museum in 1888. Goshorn was knowledgeable about ceramics; his family had made its fortune manufacturing white lead, a principal ingredient of ceramic glazes.

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  • Title: Plaque
  • Creator: William Evan Charles Morgan (English, b.1903, d.Circa 1970)
  • Date Created: Circa 1880s
  • Location Created: Orange House, Chelsea, England, United Kingdom, Merton Abbey, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
  • Physical Dimensions: Diam. 17 1/2 in. (44.5 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Alfred Traber Goshorn
  • Accession Number: 1888.759
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Medium: Earthenware with copper lustre stain