Arabic tile from Leighton House   leighton house museum
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Animal tile panel, circa 17th - 19th Century

Tiles showing birds of prey and lions fighting with mythical beasts

A panel of sixteen tiles showing birds of prey and lions fighting with mythical beasts, c.17th-19th century
Animal tile panel, circa 17th - 19th Century
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Why Is It Important?

The panel of sixteen tiles is a mixture of 17th century Syrian tilework and Victorian tilework produced by the artist and potter, William de Morgan (1839-1917). De Morgan's tiles are imitating the earlier Syrian tiles and were produced to replace those tiles broken in transit from Damascus.

Leighton had employed De Morgan, the foremost studio ceramicist to arrange the tiles in the Arab Hall because of De Morgan's enthusiasm of Middle Eastern artwork, particularly ceramics.

De Morgan spent most of his career trying to replicate the colours and glazes used in these countries. His efforts were so precise that it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two.

In this panel, De Morgan's tiles consist of the lower bird on the left-hand side and the four panels that make up the bottom set.

The heads of the birds of prey in the 17th century tiles have had their necks chiselled out to imply they are not living beings. This was probably done at a later date to conform to Muslim principles regarding the non-figurative in Islamic art. De Morgan's living bird is therefore easy to identify in the panel.

Cultural Links

William de Morgan was not the only British artist to be influenced by the art of the Middle East. The patterns, designs and colours of the Arab world and Asia can also be seen in the work of William Morris (1834 1896), particularly in his designs for wallpapers, carpets and curtains.

Next : Flower and foliage tile panel, circa 1871-1881.

Previous : Calligraphy tile panel, date unknown.

End Arab Hall Tour.