The production of Japanese porcelain started in the 17th century, later than that of Korea and China. Japanese porcelain comprises of a highly exceptional white to an off-white hard paste made with ball clays and kaolin blended with silica and feldspar. Methods and ideas entered Japan all the way from China through Korea together with the methods and ways for producing pottery, Korean and Chinese designs. In the beginning, the wares used European shapes and Chinese decoration, just as done by the Chinese. Nevertheless, the innovative Japanese styles developed progressively. At present, Japanese porcelain is considered to be one of the best in quality and the finest in the world.
As the name implied, China is the first nation to produce real porcelain in the whole world. The discovery of porcelain in China was said to be an improvement that transformed the face of art all over the world. It took many years for the process to be replicated somewhere else. Ultimately, porcelain and the know-how needed to generate it started spreading to other parts of East Asia. Porcelain wares were exported to Europe in the period of Ming dynasty of 1368 AD to 1644 AD. The Ming dynasty was in control of much of the porcelain trade, which later extended to Europe, Africa and Asia.
The story of Poole Pottery is a microcosm of the history of England during the last 120 years. It also follows the pattern that many potteries took, upturns to their fortunes and then falling demand as the patterns of life changed. Like many potteries, it has suffered from takeovers, merges, and economic problems. The pottery produced by Poole Pottery is full of vibrant colour, deep reds and many shades of blue together with lively designs. It is good to know that the fine quality of work continues up in Stoke-on-Trent and that you can find both new and old pieces of Poole Pottery to enjoy or add to your collections.
Mintons spanned the years 1793-1968. During this 200-year span, they produced a wide-ranging variety of different styles and techniques in ceramic manufacture, some are extremely pretty, some are extravagant. New techniques were introduced and some very fine and innovative artists and designers collaborated and worked at the company. In fact, the spirit of collaboration certainly helped them to attain both commercial value for their customers as well as a wider customer base. The story of Mintons is primarily a story of the main characters who lived and worked there. They shaped the development of the company just as surely as they shaped the pots the company made.
Clarice Cliff is renowned for her skill in designing both the painted pattern and the shape of her pieces. She favoured bold colours and strong designs and unusual, sometimes bizarre shapes. Cliff was different from most young women in the pottery industry. She wanted to learn everything and she quite soon became skilled in modelling, gilding, hand painting, enamelling and banding. Cliff’s work was popular and much in demand during the 1920s but then interest declined. However, the Brighton exhibition started a revival in interest. The interest peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the prices have fallen since then, rare combinations of paint and shape can still command high prices at auction.
Moorcroft has designed a unique style of tube lined works with brilliant colours and great artistic appeal. The earlier pieces featuring flowers and fruits have been extended to modern abstract designs, yet still using the traditional methods of manufacture. If you are a collector of Moorcroft, then you are in good company. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, adds them to her royal collection, former US presidents, British prime ministers, together with many well-known actors and singers, collect Moorcroft. You can always find something interesting and stylish for your collection, prices ranging from the highly valued limited editions to the more affordable, yet still valuable ceramics.
Kitty Blake was a driving force at the Royal Worcester during her long period of work there. At Worcester, she specialised in small fruits and flowers. Many of her pieces capture perfectly the Autumn colours, the reddish leaves and the glossy blackberries. There are also delicate items with white backgrounds and pretty coloured flowers. Very often, the colours are light but clear. Kitty Blake has left us with some beautiful flower paintings and the most appetising blackberries you can find on a vase. Her work must be a welcome addition for any collector of Worcester Porcelain, or for anyone who likes pretty things.
The Doughty sisters were born to English explorer and writer Charles Doughty and his wife in San Remo, Italy. Freda ran modelling classes for children from their home. She would frequently use them as live models for the ceramic figurines that she fired in her own kiln. Dorothy, too, had a passion for nature and enjoyed painting. Together, the sisters had a huge impact on the survival of the Royal Worcester Company. Both with Freda’s children in the early 1930s, a little later, with Dorothy’s limited editions of birds for the American market. Different in tastes, different in what they produced, the sisters were united in a love of art and nature.
Richard Sebright worked for the Royal Worcester company for fifty-six years. However, there is little information about the man himself. His work and his religion completely occupied his days. Every piece he worked on had to be the very best he was capable of. But because of this, he was never fast enough to make a good living. Yet, his fellow artists considered him to be the finest fruit painter of them all. When you look at his works, it is easy to understand why. Richard is remembered for his exceptionally fine fruit paintings, and also for his delicate watercolours of flowers.
Harry Austin trained as an artist from a young age. He won many medals for his drawings at this time. He started his career at Royal Worcester in 1910. Harry developed into a very skilled artist with a wide range of subjects. Birds were the most predominant feature of his many talents. He produced a series of amazing birds for the Australian market. He also made paintings of fruit, flowers and plants for the export market. So realistic were the paintings that one could almost reach out a hand to pick them. Harry retired in 1955 and left a legacy of a truly beautiful bird and fruit ceramic art.
Wedgwood is porcelain, fine China, and Magnificence Company established by Josiah Wedgwood. In 1765, Wedgwood came up with a new type of creamware, which overwhelmed the then British consort who gave formal authorisation to name it Queen’s Ware. This new product sold very well all over Europe. Wedgwood developed some other industrial innovations for his company. The Jasperware, made to look like prehistoric cameo glass, was the best-known product of Wedgwood, which is now a museum piece. The designs were extremely influenced by the prehistoric cultures being rediscovered and studied at that time to please the enormous business demand. Wedgwood has honoured many individuals from America and corporations also, both in the past and in recent times.
Royal Worcester has always been known for the very high quality of the artists’ painting. Perhaps the best known are the members of the Stinton family. They started working at the Grainger factory before it came under the auspices of the Royal Worcester in 1905. Throughout the years of their association with the Worcester Pottery, they have produced fine artwork, particularly in each of their chosen specialities. While the theme of cattle, game birds and scenic castles runs through the Stinton dynastic artwork, each has its own individuality. Some of the colouring is quite ethereal and very lovely to see. The Stinton family has made a huge contribution to the Royal Worcester Porcelain factories work.
George White studied art in London before becoming the chief specialist figure painter on vases, plates, cups and saucers at Doulton’s Burslem Studio. He painted figures, usually maidens in romantic scenes and wearing diaphanous garments. He uses soft and delicate colours and was able to depict the translucent quality of these robes in realistic and very lovely detail. He also decorated Luscian ware, one of Charles Noke’s many specialties. It is an enamelled pottery and tended to be decorated in the Art Nouveau style from around 1900. George’s vases and plates must have taken hours of painstaking work to decorate, and together with the rarity value of these finest pieces, it’s no wonder they are much sought after now.
When James Hadley started his apprenticeship, Royal Worcester was still known as Kerr and Binns of Worcester. Such was his skill that by 1870, he became the chief designer in the factory. John Sandon, a well-respected British authority on glass and ceramics, described James Hadley as “probably the finest English modeller of all time”. He was said to be able to work in any style or form but is best known for his decorative figures. Perhaps one of his most famous models was the “Aesthetic Teapot”. In 1875, he left the Worcester factory and set up his own. James Hadley had a somewhat turbulent career. Yet, he left some of the finest models ever produced.
William Hawkins started working at the Royal Worcester when he was 16 years old. Like the other Royal Worcester artists, William had his own speciality. In his case, it was portraits, figures and still life work. Many important changes took place during the times William worked at the Worcester factory. These years also saw many changes in the British way of life. The Royal Worcester Company has been renowned for the skill of its artists and none were more respected than William Hawkins. He worked during a time of great change, and his unique, wonderfully decorated items are a collector’s dream, though not easy to find now.
Carlton Ware was a pottery manufacturing company that manufactured hand-painted household pottery in lofty Art Deco styles throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It produced promotional items for Guinness. Carlton Ware focused on the ornamental giftware end of the household pottery market for the major part of its career. As part of innovation and development, the company introduced new production methods where the decal and hand-painting work was incorporated into high-glaze substrates in the 1920s. The necessity to pass on increasing labour and fuel costs critically affected the aptitude of Carlton Ware to keep manufacturing sophisticated hand-painted items. It was on this note that the company then focused more on novelty items until its downfall.
Leonard Lumsden Grimwade and his elder brother, Sidney Richard Grimwade founded a company that produced an English brand of earthenware and fine bone china tableware, later known as Royal Winton. The natural talent the two brothers had shown for pottery led to the start of the business. Their Chintz pattern designs, which made the company very successful, first appeared in 1928. Over their decades of success, Royal Winton had produced over 60 Chintz patterns while exporting to the USA and most Commonwealth nations. Despite all changes the company had undergone, they remained steadfast to beauty, quality and design which attracted buyers from around the world.
Bow porcelain factory was an English soft-paste porcelain factory founded by Thomas Frye. He was a talented Irish engraver alongside his partner, Edward Heylyn. Bow factory rivalled the Chelsea porcelain factory, the two of which were the first in England. Bow made some quality cheaper sprigged tableware in white. Imitating imported Chinese wares, the tableware came in blue and white porcelain with floral underglaze decoration. Just like other factories around the globe, the Kakiemon style of the Japanese export porcelain was also trending at Bow. While some Bow figures imitated Chelsea models, many more imitated Meissen. Following the Bow factory’s rapid expansion, they had become the largest English factory of its time.