Catalog      Articles      Blue & White      Textile Designs      Site Map      Search      Contact

William De Morgan Happy Ducks and Dragons

Art Nouveau Backsplash and Fireplace Surround

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

De Morgan scaleable tiles in Cobalt blue

separator scroll

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.

Historical Background

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. (Image from V&A)

William De Morgan Happy Dragons, Cobalt blue, single tile

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

Duck and Dragon Tiles

The Ducks and Dragons are available without the carnation border in 6 inch tiles (as shown at the top of this page).

Pricing for Duck and Dragon Tiles without carnation borders: $62 each

You can also order 8x8 ducks and dragons with the carnation border (not part of the backsplash, but same colors and would work as complementary tiles. See information on De Morgan Duck and Dragon accent tiles with carnation borders.

section separator

Ducks and Dragons with Carnation Borders

Tile Sizes

Happy ducks and dragons foursquare with carnation borders

Duck and Dragon Four Square

The backsplash consists, at the minimum, of four 8-inch corner tiles.

Pricing for Duck and Dragon four-square with carnation borders, eight-inch tiles: $400

section separator

Extended Duck and Dragon Backsplash

De Morgan scaleable backsplash tiles in Cobalt blue

However, you can extend the width and height by additing additional rows of 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 (shown at the top of this page) are 6x6 inches.

Extended Backsplash Pricing

Foursquare corner tiles with borders: $400 for four corner tiles.

8 x 6 inch side tiles: $173 for one left border and one right border tile.

6 x 8 inch vertical border tiles: $173 for one top border and one bottom border tile.

Center tiles without borders (6 inches): $68 each

Two-row border with Carnations

See the extended backsplash information below if you would like to build a two row border.

William De Morgan Art Nouveau 'Happy Dragons' nine-tile backsplash.

Example Nine-Tile Backsplash

The nine-tile backsplash is scaleable in both directions and consists of four corner tiles, On each of top, left side, right side and bottom tiles, and one 6x6 center tile. It is 22 inches by 22 inches.

section separator

Fireplace Surround

You can build your own fireplace surround from the individual backsplash tiles, as shown here. The six-inch borderless tiles would work just as well.

De Morgan fireplace surround with Art Nouveau Ducks and Dragons fireplace, Cobalt Blue

section separator


Colors: The Happy Dragons panels are available in the same Victorian cobalt 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.