Charlotte Rhead Pottery

1Charlotte Rhead was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent on 19 October 1885 and became one of the leading English ceramics designers of the 1920s and the 1930s in the Potteries area of Staffordshire. Charlotte Rhead pottery, Charlotte Rhead ceramics and Charlotte Rhead designs have become very collectable.

Pictured right: Charlotte Rhead Pottery Vase – A Charlotte Rhead ‘New Vine’ vase By Burgess & Leigh, circa 1929, of ovoid shape with flared rim, tube-tooled and painted with blue grapes and orange lustered fruits amid foliage, 29.7cm, printed mark, tube-lined signature. Sold for £353 at Bonhams, London, August 2005.

Charlotte Rhead was born into an artistic family. Her father Frederick Alfred Rhead began his career at Mintons as a pate-sur-pate artist under Marc Louis Solon and went on to work at a number of potteries. Her elder brother, Frederick Hurten Rhead, became a well-known pottery designer. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Rhead family was living in Fenton where Charlotte and her sister Dollie studied at Fenton School of Art.

Charlotte started work at Wardle and Co, a pottery in Hanley where her brother Frederick was art director before emigrating to the USA in 1902. Charlotte did not stay at the firm long but it gave her the opportunity to develop her skills as a tubeliner, which would be useful to her in her future career as a designer. In 1905 Charlotte found employment as an enameller at Keeling & Co of Burslem.

Burleigh PlatePictured left: A Burleigh Persian Plaque, by Charlotte Rhead, printed and painted marks – 35.7cm. Sold for £2,585 at Christies, London, May 2003.

She was next employed as a designer at a tile-maker, T & R Boote. In 1912 Charlotte’s father was appointed art director of Wood and Sons, a firm which operated several potteries. Charlotte joined him there, taking charge of the tubeliners, and later working as a designer.

Charlotte is perhaps best known for her association with Burgess and Leigh of Middleport (now known as the Burleigh Pottery), where she worked as a designer from 1926 until 1931. In the 1930s she moved to the firm of AG Richardson in Tunstall. Their brand name was Crown Ducal. Charlotte Rhead Crown Ducal designs include Fruit Border, Tudor Rose, Persian Leaf & Aztec among others.

charlotte rhead burleigh kimonoCharlotte Rhead’s potter’s mark .Rhead is noted for her cheerful tubelined designs. Her style was more traditional than that of Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper, her contemporaries. Rhead’s ware was popular in her lifetime, and continues to fetch moderate prices at auction. Jessie Tait, another prolific ceramic designer, worked for Charlotte Rhead.

Pictured right: A rare Burgess & Leigh charger designed by Charlotte Rhead Tube-lined with a design of a Japanese lady wearing patterned green kimono, within a stylised floral border, 36cm, printed mark and tube-lined signature, pattern no. 4011. Sold for £1,620 at Bonhams, Knowle, November 2009.

The leading authority on the Rhead family was Bernard Bumpus (1921-2004) who curated an exhibition about the Rhead family, Rhead Artists and Potters, which toured various UK Museums in the 1980s. Bumpus’s publications include Charlo tte Rhead: Potter and Designer, 1987.

Its origins begin in elements of Art Nouveau, particularly the formal geometry, Cubism and abstract art, primitivism, modernist architecture, Russian revolutionary art, jazz music, American films, especially musicals, and even modern methods of transport.

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