Arthur was the third of nine children born to Hannah and Benjamin Barlow in Little Hadham, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Four of the children were destined to work for varying lengths of time at Royal Doulton. Sadly, Arthur died young, but his exceptional talent and the rarity of his pieces make them valuable additions to a collection.
Arthur and his sister, Hannah, were both students at the Lambeth School of Art. The owner of Doulton’s – Henry Doulton was developing a good relationship with the School of Art and in 1871, Arthur and Hannah were among a group of students who were taken on by Doulton’s. Their first jobs were to decorate salt-glazed stoneware pots.
Arthur soon showed his talent and designed beautiful jugs and vases usually with swirling foliate designs. For a while, he worked with George Tinworth. His sisters specialised in the animals, birds, and flowers, while Arthur’s naturalistic artwork generally depicted the leaves and other flowing designs.
Examples of his work
Some examples of his work include the jug dated 1874, which has his monogram and date impressed onto the base. It is decorated with a fluid pattern of foliage in colours of brown and blue. The jug was on offer for £275.
A second example is another jug just 7 inches tall. This has a swollen body with a moulded, spirally twisted ornamentation or wrythen design, coloured gold-brown highlighted with cobalt blue. The slender neck has a delicate acanthus leaf design and the handle is angular. Again, the monogram and date are impressed upon the base. The starting bid was £300 despite a chipped neck.
As a final example, there is a lovely green, blue and brown puzzle jug, decorated with an incised seaweed pattern with applied florets, 26 cms high and with a hammer price of £ 200.
This puzzle jug (popular in the 18th and 19th centuries) has perforations in the neck which make it virtually impossible to drink it down without a great deal of spillage. The way to do it lies with a tube with an opening, running through the handle to near the bottom of the jug in the inside, so it’s like drinking through a straw.
Sadly, Arthur died when he was only thirty-three years old. During his eight years with Royal Doulton, he produced some beautiful and highly skilled pieces. Because of the relatively short time he worked there, there are comparatively fewer pieces surviving than those say of his sisters. But their rarity and beauty make them highly desirable additions to any collection.