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A Flock of Fantastic Bird Tiles

William De Morgan's Persian Garden

In my end is my beginning ~T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

William De Morgan, A Garden of Fantastic Birds

Wiliam De Morgan Bird and Foliage Designs

William De Morgan, designs for bird and foliage tiles from Martin Greenwood, The Designs of William De Morgan

The first birds and foliage designs appeared as a set of four birds: a duck, a peacock, a bluebird, and an eagle. Although other versions of severa of these appear earlier, in cobalt (Fantastic Birds and Beasts) and red lustre (Lewis Carroll Red Lustre Fireplace Tiles), these may be the earlier precursors to what would be his "Persian color palette". The designs shown are from Martin Greenwood, The Designs of William De Morgan. The ouroboros dragon swallowing its tail, a symbol of the eternal cycle of renewal, does not appear with leaves in Designs, but was sold at auction in 2010 as part of a set of antique De Morgan tiles, all with encircling foliage. These are early tiles; De Morgan's mark impressed on the back of one of the tiles indicates it was made during his "Chelsea Period". (See my longer article, William De Morgan: From Arts & Crafts to Art Nouveau.

Antique De Morgan bird tiles, sold at auction

Fulham Persian Color Palette

Later tiles made with De Morgan's Persian Color Palette show stronger colors.

William De Morgan, blue peony scroll, later Persian palette

Persian Garden Tiles Photo

William De Morgan, A Garden of Fantastic Birds tile set. Spot the imposter!

Fantastic Birds

There are 12 tiles in the Persian Garden set. Each tile shown in unique, with each tile in a pair showing differences from the other tile in the pair, just as in the antique tile set I took as my inspiration.

Designer: William De Morgan

Sizes: 4.25 inch, 6 inch square, and 8 inch.

Uses: Persian Garden Birds are suitable for all interior applications as accents, borders, or to form a backsplash.

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Persian Garden Pricing

4.25 inch square tiles: $45.

6 inch square tiles: $56.

8 inch square tiles: $74

Set of 12 tiles: $495, $616, $814

See How to Order Tile

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Victorian Symbolism and Spirituality

Spot the Imposter!

Why is there a dragon eating its own tail, an ouroboros, in De Morgn's tile set? Symbols reveal themselves wherever one looks for them, but two in this tiles set are worthy of mention: the Peacock and the Ouroboros.

De Morgan and his wife, as well as Pre-RaphaelitesRossetti and Burne-Jones, had an interest in reincarnation and Spiritualism and even participated in Spiritualist seances. The peacock symbol was a De Morgan favorite. The peacock, arguably a cultural icon of the late 19th and early 20th century, represents Vision and Spiritual Awakening.

The ouroboros, the dragon, swallowing its tail is a more esoteric symbol of the eternal cycle of renewal with its roots in gnosticism and alchemy.

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