Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Jenny Morris portrait

Jenny Morris c.1898 [NPG]
 The William Morris Gallery has a pastel drawing that has seldom if ever been seen.  It was purchased at the Kelmscott Manor sale by Mary Annie Sloane and identified as a portrait of Jenny Morris by Evelyn de Morgan.
[Apologies for the quality of the photo below - better ones in due course]

 It was later presented by Sloane to the WMG but seems to have been rather buried in the collection - possibly because Jenny's life story has been deemed so sad following the onset of then untreatable epilepsy  when she was about fifteen.  I assume it was drawn around 1904-5 when de Morgan was working on her painting The Hour Glass, which features Jane Morris as an allegory of age.

The De Morgans were good friends with the Morris family and paid visits to Kelmscott Manor, on one of which Evelyn drew the Manor in pencil.  But I'd guess that the portraits were done in London,  unless any further info emerges.  The Williams [Morris and de M] were of course business partners after a fashion but the friendship seems to have deepened when WdeM gave up lustreware in favour of fiction and had unexpected late success as a novelist.  The DeMs were quite heavily into esoteric mysticism, and I wonder if their conversations prompted Jane to her odd declaration of belief in reincarnation. 

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