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Art Editorial

laingnightandsleep.jpg Rare spirits take flight

Sir Edward Poynter, President of the Royal Academy, described William and Evelyn De Morgan as “two of the rarest spirits of the age”, an age that bridged the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A wide-ranging exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery examines their work.

The De Morgans were far more than husband and wife. Before their marriage in 1887 they were established artists in their own rights, and shared an interest in social reform, pacifism and spiritualism. Evelyn’s remarkable paintings bear the influence of early Italian Renaissance art, as well as the legacy of pre-raphaelitism, yet they have a distinctive style all of their own (that’s her ‘Night and Sleep’ (1878), pictured). The exhibition will include some of her best known works, as well as drawings, which are almost as large as the paintings, but have rarely been seen in public. William, meanwhile, was undoubtedly the most intriguing and inventive ceramic designer of the late Victorian period. He was the son of a mathematician and had classical art training at the Royal Academy School. As a result, he always underpinned his elaborate designs with geometric structures. In all, the exhibition features over 120 works.

William and Evelyn De Morgan, until 20 June, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle. laingartgallery.org.uk