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Evelyn De Morgan: Pre-Raphaelite Artist of Hope


Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Towneley Park, Burnley, Lancashire, BB11 3RQ

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Evelyn De Morgan: Pre-Raphaelite Artist of Hope

This beautiful exhibition of Evelyn De Morgan’s paintings looks beyond crisis towards brighter days ahead.

Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919) was an artist who always had hope. From a young age she longed to be an artist but had to battle against her middle-class parents who didn’t see it as a suitable career for a woman.  As a wealthy woman, she was expected to debut to polite society, then marry and raise her own family. But De Morgan hoped for more.

From a young age she insisted on becoming an artist and forged ahead despite restrictions of her class and gender. She learnt to draw at the prestigious Slade School of Art, before being invited to exhibit at the exclusive Grosvenor Gallery when she was just 22 years old. She went on to have meteoric career selling her beautiful Pre-Raphaelite style paintings until her death in 1919.

She lived through the Boer Wars and First World War and was horrified at the loss and devastation, but used her paintings to spread a pacifist message of hope. Possessing a strong belief that art should have a moral purpose, De Morgan fashioned an artistic response to war using a deliberate synthesis of academic style, symbol and allegory to convey pacifist meanings and values.

Her artwork became cathartic, allowing her a platform to present her profound fears and her hope that better days would come. These paintings resonate deeply with our own experience of living through a global crisis 100 years later during the coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibition includes 15 oil paintings and 29 sketches, studies, and pastel drawings by Evelyn De Morgan from the Foundation’s Collection. Notable works are ‘Night and Sleep’ which has recently been show in the Petit Palais, Paris, and The National Portrait Gallery, London, and ‘Our Lady of Peace’ which underwent special conservation treatment to be included in this show.  They will be accompanied by Towneley Hall’s painting ‘Destiny’ By John William Waterhouse, a contribution to the Artists War Fund which raised money during the Boer War, and by Edward Burne-Jones, to show the stylistic similarities between Burne-Jones and De Morgan.

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  • Sub-Regional AwardsPartner of Visit Lancashire Partner of Visit Lancashire 2018


Road Directions

On A671; 2 miles south east of Burnley.



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      Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, BurnleyThis 14th century grade 1 listed hall has a rich history with many stories to tell, with grand period rooms decorated with oil paintings and sculptures covering several centuries of life at the hall which was the home of the Towneley family for over 600 years.

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