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William De Morgan Happy Dragons Backsplash and Accent Tiles

Art Nouveau Dragons with Victorian Borders

But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them. Ursula K. Le Guin

William De Morgan Victorian 'Happy Dragons'tiles.

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This is an early De Morgan Art Nouveau design with some classic Victorian elements: the blue and white color, its scaleability, the floral border, and the stylized quality of the dragons. The Happy Dragons are available both as accent tiles and as scaleable panels for backsplash or fireplace.

Accent Tiles

William De Morgan Victorian 'Happy Dragons' bordered accent tile.

I have made single accent tiles based on the full backsplash available in cobalt blue and red lustre. The pattern is really too intense for 4-inch tiles, but it's possible to break up the pattern into four tiles that fit together. It's so close to the 8-inch size that I haven't offered it here.

Colors: Cobalt blue and red lustre.

Background Color: Cream or white.

Pricing for Accent tiles with borders

8 inches: $84

6 inches: $58

Victorian Tile Backsplash

William De Morgan Reproducton Tile Panel, 'Happy Dragons'. Twenty-tile panel, with foliage border.  Center tiles are six inches.

Happy Dragons is a very scalable design. The original panel consists of 20 tiles (You can see it at the Fitzwilliam Museum). The happy dragon pattern repeats on both the horizontal and the vertical, making it an excellent candidate for filling in odd sized spaces. Components:

Center Dragons: The center dragon tiles dragon tiles are available in 4.25 and 6 inches. They do not have borders. If installing the border, you are committing to the six-inch center tiles for things to work out correctly.

Floral Border Tiles: The carnation border is made of two sizes: The corner carnations are 3 inches square, and the foliage panels are 6 inches by 3 inches.

Colors: The Happy Dragons panels are available in the same cobalt blue and red lustre as the accent tiles, as well as copper and gold. Just for fun, I also made the center dragons in in De Morgan Persian blues, from his Persian palette. There is no border available for the Persian dragon variation.

Background Color: The background color is cream or white.

Complementary Tiles: Following the rule that "Good design repeats itself", you can use the accent tiles can be used as a complementary border or elsewhere to pull the look of the room together.

Happy Dragons Backsplash Pricing

Four center dragons tiles (two of each orientation): $370 (4.25 inch) / $415 (6 inch)

Additional center dragon sets (two tiles - one of each orientation): $180 (any size tiles)

Four carnation corners (3 inches square) : $20 each or $70 per set

Carnation panels, each (6 x 3 inches): $44 each


William De Morgan Happy Dragons with foliage borders in cobalt blue, gold and copper.

The backslash is made up of three tile sizes:

Center Dragon Tiles

Size: Center and accent tiles are 6 inch (15.24 cm) or 8 inch (20.32 cm) square tiles, also available in 4.25 inch

Carnation Border

Corner carnations are 3 inch tiles. Carnation borders are 6 inches by 3 inches. You will need four corner tiles and two carnation borders for each row in your panel.

Historical Background

Some Historical Information: The date of the original 'Happy Dragons' panel is the subject of much debate. De Morgan did make red lustre tiles on earthenware blanks well into his Fulham period (1888-1907), and the V&A dates the piece as 1888. Arts and Crafts historian Michael Robinson dates is as c. 1882, which would be right after De Morgan's move to Merton Abbey (see About William De Morgan for an overview of his "periods"). I am inclined to agree with Michael Robinson. In the years preceding the move to Merton Abbey, De Morgan experimented with different glazes. He had begun experimenting with lustreware early in his Chelsea period, but several years of experimentation followed. He eventually made his own earthenware tiles, but the purchased blanks he used during his Chelsea and Merton Abbey periods, sometimes made the lustre uneven, as in the original of this panel. He also implemented these center tiles in cobalt blue.. The foliage border is not unique to this panel but appears in various forms in many of De Morgan's tiles and borders.

William De Morgan Victorian 'Happy Dragons' bordered accent tile.

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