GEORGE WHITE: A Royal Doulton Delight

George White - photo by Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts

George White worked at Doulton Burslem factory from 1885 to 1912. Since 1812, the factory’s name was Doulton and Co Ltd.

The Work of George White

George White studied art in London before becoming the chief specialist figure painter on vases, plates, cups and saucers at Doulton’s Burslem Studio in 1885.

George White mark on the underside of a cabinet plate for Doulton Burslem – photo by WorthPoint

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. Many of his subjects were taken from classical mythology, subjects of interest at that time. As the Art Director, Charles Noke said he painted ‘the human form divine with beauty, grace and delicacy’.

He also decorated Luscian ware, one of Charles Noke’s many specialties.

Royal Visits to the Burslem Factory

During his time at the Burslem factory, it was granted the Royal Warrant by the new King, Edward Vll, in 1901. A new back stamp was introduced and the company became the “Royal Doulton”. Another visit took place just after George had left – this time by King George the Fifth and Queen Mary. Since then, the factory has received several royal visits, including one from Our Queen Elizabeth in 1949.

What was Going on at Burslem?

George White for Doulton Burslem, a painted ewer, decorated with a maiden in Etruscan clothes holding a potted lily, below a jewelled floral ground neck – photo by Kingham & Orme

Changes and growth were happening the Doulton factories. When George started work at the Doulton factory in Burslem, it was a relatively new addition to the Doulton works. Doulton bought up this old established pottery at Burslem in 1877. Thus, completed the North Staffordshire group known as the “Fine China Association”.

While Royal Doulton has three other Staffordshire sites, it is the Burslem factory where both earthenware and fine bone china were produced. Their lines included the Toby Jugs, “Sung” glazed ware and “Rouge Flambe”.

As well as acquiring the Burslem site, the company collected together a distinguished group of artists – including Charles Noke and then George White in 1885. This was a time of experimentation and innovation, which continues to this day. Throughout, they maintained high quality and excellent colourings. Royal Doulton continued to be a world leader on the ceramic’s field. It must have been a stimulating time to work in the Doulton factory for George.

Luscian Ware

A Doulton Burslem Luscian Ware Slender Two Handled Vase Painted by George White – photo by Christie’s | Lot 29

It was Charles Noke who introduced Luscian Ware otherwise known as Lactolian Ware to the Burslem Doulton factory. It is an enamelled pottery and tended to be decorated in the Art Nouveau style from around 1900. Not many pieces were produced, but they did help to establish the reputation of Doulton as being able to produce pieces as fine as Sevres or Minton. Since the production run was so short, these pieces are avidly sought after by collectors worldwide and even a small item can be sold for a four-figure sum.

The incredibly short production run was partly because of the high production cost. One medium size vase could sometimes cost £100-£200 to make and could take nearly a month to complete. And it is not surprising that the production run was so short.

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.

Recently one such beautiful vase was showcased on the Antiques Roadshow.

Antiques Roadshow Unearths Beautiful Vase

The story of its rediscovery is interesting.

Doulton Burslem Vase Signed George White, ca. 1900 – photo by PBS

The lady who owned the vase told us she had bought it in Atlantic City, America, in the early 1960s. She explained that at that time in New Jersey, where she was brought up, many of the mid-century holiday homes and beach homes were being torn down to make way for new buildings. These homes were often owned by well-travelled people who had bought many treasures for their homes from Europe. So, there were some beautiful items for sale. And this is how she acquired this lovely George White vase.

She went on to tell us how she and her new husband had bought it from a dealer. As they were newlyweds, they had very little money, and she reckoned they paid no more than $200 (280 AUD), and probably less.

The appraiser then went on to demonstrate the Doulton Burslem emblem and the signature of George White. He reckoned the item was made between 1891 and 1902. This piece also had the word “Autumn” on the base – probably a sign that George was pleased with the work.

This case is decorated all the way around – which was a style which the Victorian’s liked. The appraiser put a suggested price of $2,000 – $3,000 (2,806 – 4209 AUD) because it is such a very fine piece of work.

And in the image, it does look a very fine piece of work!

The Unusual Floral Cup and Saucer

Rare Antique 1885 Doulton Burslem George White Floral Raised Gold Hand Painted Cabinet Demitasse Cup & Saucer – photo by Ellis Antiques | eBay

Another example concerns a “Rare Antique 1885 Doulton Burslem George White Floral Raised Gold Hand Painted Cabinet Demitasse Cup & Saucer”.

This is being offered for 289 AUD and is said to be in excellent condition: no chips, no scratches, no paint wear damage.

In this case, there is extremely detailed hand painted gold filigree decoration in a Moorish design. There are flowers cascading down, colourful violets, daffodils with golden trim. This doesn’t sound like George’s usual offerings but the bottom of both cup and saucer have the Doulton stamp and there is a “G” on the bottom of the cup. Cup and saucer are signed by George White on the back. The bottom of the saucer is marked GW1058,e3191c.

They are quite small, the cup being only 2 inches high and the diameter of the saucer just 4,25 inches. Delicate pieces for sure.

So, What Did George White Leave Us?

He left some incredibly delicate paintings on pottery. The elegant and ethereal maidens take us back to the Victorian love of antiquity in a very emotive way. His work, being of the highest standard, makes for exciting and valuable additions to any collection.