Dr Wall was a physician, entrepreneur, interested in a wide variety of subjects, active and energetic, as well as philanthropic. Throughout his busy life, he turned to art for relaxation. He was self-taught and his work achieved a sufficiently high standard. His quest for the perfect porcelain came at the right time when tea consumption had risen four-fold in the society of that time. With Lund’s secret ingredient, they gained a huge commercial advantage over their competitors. Dr Wall continued his interest and involvement in the porcelain works from the inception of the factory until his death. He was a man of his century.
For over 250 years, the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company has been producing interesting and sometimes very ornate and quite lovely porcelain pieces. It all started when Dr John Wall and William Davis had been experimenting with new ways to make porcelain. Tea was just becoming a popular social drink from 1730 onwards. The pottery of 1730 would crack or shatter if subjected to boiling water. They were the first to use soap-ware in their offerings so that the English enjoy a proper cup of tea made with boiling water. Royal Worcester porcelain is collected by people over the world, and the porcelain includes some very valuable and desirable pieces.
It was in 1751 that Dr. John Wall founded a porcelain factory that would become known as the Royal Worcester Porcelain factory. Early Worcester marks are very rare, with typically a crescent mark. These marks were irregular and a bit haphazard. It wasn’t until 1862 that the Royal Worcester marks were first introduced. At first, the company used the letters of the alphabet to designate the year of manufacture. After they had used up the letters, the Royal Worcester introduced a fairly simple code using dots for the years. By the 1980s, some of the pieces made had elaborate marks. They include not only the issue numbers but also the designers’ names.
Arthur was the third of nine children born to Hannah and Benjamin Barlow. Arthur and his sister, Hannah, were both students at the Lambeth School of Art, and they were among a group of students who were taken on by Doulton’s. Arthur soon showed his talent and designed beautiful jugs and vases, usually with naturalistic swirling foliate designs. Sadly, Arthur died young, but because of the relatively short time he worked with Royal Doulton, there are comparatively fewer pieces surviving than those of his sisters. The rarity and beauty of his pieces make them highly desirable additions to any collection.
Frederick Marshall, a stonemason, and Elizabeth Vasler had a son whom they named Mark. Little did they know, Mark was to become one of the most creative and innovative craftsmen of Royal Doulton. Like George Tinworth, Mark trained at the Lambeth School of Art. For a short period of time, he worked for the Martin Brothers, where he developed his taste for weird and wonderful designs like his reptiles and dragons. Mark brought his personal style with him when he joined Royal Doulton. He drew inspiration from different sources such as literature, discoveries made at the time, and even his wife.
Even from a young age, Charles Noke already showed a keen interest in the design and manufacture of the porcelain. This was noticed by his father’s friend, Mr. Binns, and allowed him to wander in the Worcester factory. This whole experience would then become Charles’s defining moment. Charles gradually built up his own reputation as a stylish modeller of figurines and vases and showing them at national exhibitions. This caught the attention of Royal Doulton’s director at the time. He was offered a post as chief designer, and would then become the premier modeller and designer of Royal Doulton. Because of him, Doulton series, new glazes and limited editions were introduced.
Among Royal Doulton’s artists, Leslie was the free spirit. His independent nature is what gave his art variety. His dream was to own a small studio where he could sculpt clay of figures of his own designs. After realizing that his dream was out of his reach, Leslie and his brother bought land to farm. Unfortunately, the soil was poor and the farm was isolated. It wasn’t always bad news for Leslie though, as he found clay on their land, and he modelled with them whenever he could. With Charles Noke’s help, Leslie would later become one of Royal Doulton’s regular and prolific modellers.
Margaret (Peggy) Davies was born in the heart of the Staffordshire pottery industry. No one knew she’d become one of Royal Doulton’s most respected and prolific figurine artists. She had a tough childhood, battling disease and poverty. Fortunately, her artistic talent was noticed by one of her teachers who allowed her more time on creative endeavours. At 12 years old, she won a scholarship to study at the Burslem College of Art. She started working for Royal Doulton during World War II, became a nurse, then came back to being a designer under contract to Royal Doulton. Now, her figurines are very collectable and prices vary enormously.
In 1856, another talented daughter was born to Benjamin Iram and Hannah Barlow. Florence Barlow would follow her sister’s steps and become one of the most successful artists working at Royal Doulton. When she and her sister, Hannah, joined Royal Doulton together, they decided that Hannah would concentrate on animal motifs and Florence would specialise in flowers and birds. Unlike her sister, Florence used a technique which involved building up layer after layer of translucent slip to create a pattern that stood up in relief from the surface, also known as pâte-sur-pâte. Anyone who owns one of her pieces is very lucky to have a beautiful piece of pottery indeed.
In 1851, a little girl was born to a very talented family. Her name is Hannah Bolton Barlow. She studied under John Sparks, who was a close friend of Henry Doulton. Hannah became the first woman artist to be employed by Doulton potteries. Her love for animals and her knowledge about them is a strong feature of her work. Despite losing the use of her right hand, she learnt to become equally proficient in the use of her left hand. She could even produce up to 20 high-quality pots in a day. Today, her work is in demand due to the unique style and quality of her work.
George Tinworth’s story was a story of determination, courage and exceptional talent. As a boy, he already showed his talent in art by carving butter stamps. His neighbour noticed it and suggested he study at an art school. So when he got older, he pawned his overcoat just to pay the fee for evening classes to study pottery. George began his career with Royal Doulton when John Sparkes advised Henry Doulton to hire him. He was making a name for himself by becoming the premier artist for Royal Doulton. George’s name lives on, not only in his works, but he also has a street named after Him – “Tinworth Street” in Lambeth.
The Royal Doulton is now one of Britain’s foremost and largest pottery companies with over 30,000 products and an international clientele. But it wasn’t always that way. Did you know it started very small? In fact, it was started by a young pottery apprentice with only £100 in a harsh time, a time to either sink without a trace or go on to make a name for himself.