Phosphorous and Hesperus by Evelyn de Morgan, 1881.
Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) wrote in her diary, on her seventeenth birthday—“At the beginning of each year I say ‘I will do something’ and at the end I have done nothing. Art is eternal, but life is short”.
De Morgan proved a far more successful artist than a life visionary—she lived 64 years, which in those years was not that short a life. Also, she certainly did a lot with each year her adult life extended upon her as she is, by all standards, a very prolific —exhibiting great works from 1877 until her death in 1919- artist. Her style is distinctive in its rich use of colour, allegory and the dominance of the female form, all very much in a splendid Pre-Raphaelite style. Her paintings displays a specific interest in the confinement and limitations of the physical body on earth. Often being resolved through death. De Morgan Pre-Raphaelite style presents strong, athletic characters very much, an anti-thesis to such Pre-Raphaelites such as Edward Burne-Jones, whose characters seem ephemeral to that opposite extreme of being in danger of wilting away.
Her early works are indebted to the Classical influence taught at the Slade School of Art by Sir Edward Poynter in paintings such as Ariadne in Naxos and Venus and Cupid. After her marriage to William De Morgan, she and William experimented with spiritualism. Themes such as life-after-death, the transformation of the soul, and moral messages about the transitory nature of life instilled her works, which many, at that time, were described as ‘symbolist’. De Morgan was certainly more emancipated than many of her generation or –at least- very cognitive of women strengths. Her female characters exude that as they triumph on the canvases as metaphors of hope and courage, which symbolism helping, translates this to the viewer as goddesses of power.
Already by the 1880s and, certainly, later with World War I in 1914, De Morgan used her art to express the fears shared by many about the effects and horrors of war. De Morgan combines an anti-war message with her spiritualist beliefs. Here, a lone figure stands on a rocky outcrop in the ocean, beset on all sides by mythological beasts. This can be read as dismay at the encroaching war, and also in terms of De Morgan’s spiritualist belief in the redemptive figure of the female, as a symbol of optimism.
Along with many of the other Pre-Raphaelite artists, Evelyn visited Italy in order to study the Renaissance Old Masters. The influence of Botticelli can be seen, colour is used to represent psychological and esoteric states. Rainbow iridescent shades appear in many of her works. The rainbow was considered in mythology to form a bridge for the soul after death, and this is in keeping with De Morgan’s spiritualism. De Morgan’s works offer a fascinating insight into key Victorian concerns and ideas. Her lifelong interest in spiritualism is linked to her feminist and anti-war beliefs, and these form the inspiration for many of her works and enable us to understand them in new and revealing ways.
oh , thank you very , very much , my pleasure if that what i like brings a little joy , have a great weekend my Dear , Martin
Bearded HerculesMarble, Roman, Early Imperial, A.D. 68–98