Catalog Articles Blue & White Textile Designs Site Map Search Contact
But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them. Ursula K. Le Guin
William De Morgan fireplace surround, Victorian Blue Ducks and Happy Dragons
This is an early De Morgan Art Nouveau design with some classic Victorian elements: the blue and white color (but also available in very light cream as shown), its scaleability, the floral border, and the stylized quality of the dragons. The Happy Dragons are available both as individual tiles, and as scaleable panels for backsplash or fireplace.
The original panel consists of 20 tiles in a vertical orientation. The happy dragon pattern repeats on both the horizontal and the vertical, making it an excellent candidate for filling in odd sized spaces.
The original panel had six-inch center tiles, and a 1x6 inch and four 1-inch corner tiles.
The date of the original 'Happy Dragons' panel is the subject of 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. See the original at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge
The backsplash consists, at the minimum, of four 8-inch corner tiles. Additional rows of 8x6-inch (rows) or 6x8-inch (columns) edges can be for as wide or as tall as you require. Center tiles, without borders, are 6x6 inches.
Individual Happy Dragon tiles are available in Victorian Blue and De Morgan Persian Red (from his Persian color palette).
Four-tile backsplash (16 inches x 16 inches): $400
Six-tile backsplash (additional column, 22 inches x 16 inches): $552
You can use individual tiles to build your own fireplace surround.
8 x 8 inch corner tiles: $100
6 x 6 inch center tiles $62
8 x 6 inch tiles (left, right) $77
6 x 6 inch tiles (top, bottom) $77
Colors: The Happy Dragons panels are available in the same Victorian blue and Persian red as the individual Art Nouveau Ducks and Dragon tiles with complete borders.
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.
The nine-tile backsplash is scaleable in both directions. The center row and column (and any additional rows, columns) has a 6x6 inch borderless dragon in the middle.
See individual accent tiles for colors and more information about the borderless center tiles.
Nine-tile backsplash (additional row and column and center tile, 22 inches x 22 inches): $770
You can build your own fireplace surround from the individual backsplash tiles, as shown here: