On January 22, 2001 Sotheby’s in New York will offer for sale the Harriman Judd Collection of British Art Pottery, the finest, most comprehensive collection of this type ever to come up for auction. Taken from the California home of the late Allen Harriman and Edward Judd the sale includes 800 lots of British Art Pottery, Studio Pottery and Majolica with estimates ranging from $200-$80,000. Harriman and Judd began collecting in the 1970’s and the collection they amassed largely over a ten-year period provides an in-depth survey of 130 years of British Art Pottery from all of the major factories working in this period. With objects ranging in size from 3 inches to 6ft. tall, potteries and artist potters highlighted include: Doulton Lambeth, the Martin Brothers, William Moorcroft, George Tinworth, Hannah Barlow, Mark Marshall, Minton, Pilkington’s, George Jones, Hans Cooper, Lucie Rie, and Elizabeth Fritsch. 500 lots will be offered in a live auction and 300 lots from the collection will be offered in a special sale on SOTHEBYS.COM from January 17 – February 7, 2001. (Pictured above right an impressive stoneware vase attributed to Mark V. Marshall, 20in., estimated at $5/8,000)
Christina Prescott-Walker, Vice President and joint specialist in charge of the sale, said: “We believe the Harriman Judd Collection to be one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of British Art Pottery ever assembled, and this auction in January will be a historic event in the field. Harriman and Judd were educated collectors who bought at a time when many of the items were first appearing on the open market, and this auction will provide collectors with a unique opportunity to purchase some of the finest examples of British Art pottery which have not been on the market in over twenty years. It was with an absolute passion that they surrounded themselves with these objects, creating a magical atmosphere in their 1920’s grand, Hollywood Spanish Colonial style home where Victorian and Edwardian art pottery intermingled effortlessly with contemporary studio ceramics.”
Doulton Art Pottery
The wares of this pottery are the most numerous in the Harriman Judd Collection. There are representative pieces of all the types and styles of ware ever produced by the pottery, but the largest selection is concentrated on the wares produced at the Lambeth Art Pottery under some of the leading designers who worked there. The Doulton Art Pottery was established following a liaison between the commercial stoneware manufacturer Doulton & Co. and a local school of art established in Lambeth, which was taken charge of by John Sparkes in 1856. The initial relationship between the two was formed to provide capable modelers to work for the terra cotta side of the Doulton business, but through a commission carried out by John Sparkes, and a refinement in the stoneware material being used, a studio was established at Doulton where John Sparkes’ students helped to make jugs, vases and household wares with stamped patterns or incised scenes often with animals. The Doulton Art Pottery was largely responsible for establishing the idea and value of producing Art Pottery in conjunction with an established commercial manufacturer, therefore enabling other potteries to become world famous following the establishment of their own studios.
The 1893 Chicago Exhibition is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the success and achievement of Henry Doulton and the Doulton Lambeth Art Pottery with some of the most outstanding pieces ever made by the pottery bei ng sent for the exhibition. The breadth and quality of wares exhibited, which included 1500 pieces, made a significant impact at the fair with numerous favorable reports from the world’s press. George Tinworth’s History of England Vase, which is included in this sale, was one of the major pieces made for the Chicago World’s Fair, and Tinworth rose to be recognized as the most notable artist of the early period and the most comprehensively represented artist in the Harriman Judd Collection.
The centerpiece of the Harriman Judd Collection is The History of England vase (52 5/8 inches, dated 1872, est. $80/120,000) modeled by Tinworth for the Chicago World’s Fair. This vase is one of only two that thought to have been made. This was normal practice in the pottery industry due to the unpredictable nature of making and successfully firing one-off large pieces. The vase is constructed in three sections and modeled with repeated vertical scrolling foliage on the lower part of the body and above has horizontal bands of repeated over-lapping leaf bands either side of two figurative bands. The upper figurative band consists of twenty figures of British rulers applied into arched niches separated by Ionic columns, each with incised names below them. In the central band around the waist are twenty larger figural scenes depicting various significant events in British history, each scene within an arch between double Doric columns, with incised oval panels above.
In contrast to this massive piece, it is some of Tinworth’s most endearing and smallest works that are eagerly sought after by collectors, and these include the humorous mice and frog groups which are well represented in the collection, including: a chess set modeled as mice dressed in medieval costumes (est. $8/12,000), and “The Cockneys at Brighton” humorous mouse group (est. $1,800/2,500).
Mark V. Marshall, like George Tinworth, trained at the Lambeth school of Art before moving on to work at a local mason’s yard. During this period, he also helped at the Martin Brother’s pottery until 1874 when he joined Doulton’s. Marshall’s works were some of the boldest and most exuberant ever produced at the Doulton Art Pottery, many pieces undoubtedly owing much to the Martin brothers, with grotesque and fanciful animals modeled in high relief hiding amongst scrolling foliage. A highlight included in the Harriman Judd Collection is an impressive stoneware vase attributed to Mark V. Marshall lavishly modeled with a scaly creature winding around the vase, and its offspring cowering under scrolling foliage. The fantastical vase measures 20 inches in height and is estimated at $5/8,000 (pictured top right).
The Martin Brothers
The Martin Brother’s pottery was established at Pomona House, Fulham, London, in 1873, moving to Southall in 1877. Of the four Martin Brothers, Walter Fraser, Edwin, Charles and Robert Wallace, it is Robert who as the chief modeler and designer of the pottery is best known today. While the Martin Brother’s are perhaps best known for producing the grotesque or ‘Wally’ bird tobacco jars (pictured right – an imposing large Robert Wallace Martin salt-glazed stoneware covered bird jar, 1882, 25 ½ in., est. $60/90,000), this formed only a relatively small part of their production. Initially, architectural works were produced for which Charles as business manager and developer was largely responsible. The vessels, large and small, the form often inspired by vegetables, can be incised with birds amongst grasses or birds perched in branches, or aquatic life, and were inspired by 18th century illustrations, executed in Japanese style. A few wealthy or farsighted individuals who saw the individually expressive and original thought that had gone into the creation of the pieces largely bought the wares produc ed. The final firing of the Southall kiln was in 1914 with only a small percentage of the wares being successful, as had been the case in the last few firings.
Other highlights of Martin Brothers wares in the Harriman Judd Collection include a good salt-glazed stoneware ‘Barrister’ covered bird jar dating to 1896 and estimated at $10/15,000, and a charming rare salt-glazed figural plaque Wheel Boy, Bench Boy, Thrower (pictured right) estimated to fetch $8/12,000.
Majolica was made largely for show or display with a secondary purpose of function. Because it was molded and made of earthenware it was not expensive to produce and could be made in very large numbers. The main attributes were the use of bright and richly colored glazes combined with the versatility of shapes and designs that could be created with molds. The fact that the decorative effect through the simple use of colored glazes could be applied using largely unskilled less expensive labor compared to the usual labor intensive hand painted work of the period, was also very cost effective. The ability to work in huge scale or in miniature was also attractive to the numerous designers that worked in a variety of factories. The origins of the ware came from Italian Renaissance maiolica wares combined with the boldly colored architectural works of the Italian Della Robbia family in the 16th century.
It is a combination of the fact that these wares were made in large quantities using industrial methods and decorated by largely unskilled labor that makes this type of ware outside the realms of true Art Pottery. The appearance of such colorful wares in the mid-nineteenth was very impressive, and today, the boldness of the color as well as some of the extraordinarily lavish, inventive and exotic wares that were produced still captivates collectors. Because many Majolica pieces, especially the larger works, were intended for powerful display in lavish settings, many collectors use them for the same purpose today. A typical exhuberant piece on small scale included in the sale is a rare Minton majolica teapot from 1878 modeled in the form of a fish with a spiny dorsal fin, surrounded by rolling waves. Measuring just over 7 inches the teapot is estimated at $8/12,000 (pictured right).
Another majolica highlight on a larger scale is a Minton ‘Jardinier (sic) Tripod’ plant stand, 1870s, with satyr masks applied to the three bowed legs, dating to the 1870’s and estimated at $12/18,000. By far the largest piece in the sale is a large Minton majolica stand of an African male figure, after a design by A. Carrier de Belleuse, for Minton, measuring over 6 feet and expected to fetch $25/35,000.
William Moorcroft’s career can be dived into two halves, the early part as Art Director (1897-1913) at the firm of James Macintyre & Co., Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, and the later as part owner (along with Liberty & Co.) manager, designer, and technician, of his own pottery in Cobridge. Moorcroft created flowing artistic wares full of expression, balance and imagination and his earliest successes were immediately recognized by the directors of Liberty & Co. who started selling his works around 1902. An example included in the Harriman Judd Collection is a Florian Ware Vase tube-lined with peacock motifs on a washed blue ground and estimated at $1/2,000. His designs were soon found for sale at Tiffany & Co, in New York, Shreve & Co, San Francisco, rare metal mounted coffee set, est. $5/8,000, Rouard in Paris and Osler’s of London.
Having opened h is own pottery with the financial backing of Liberty & Co., Moorcroft was now able to produce endless new patterns and shapes. He was also able to pursue his passion for new glazes in particular transmutation glazes, building a special flambé kiln in 1919 to achieve this end. An example of this style is a flambé fish vase decorated with fish and jellyfish in a sea bed and estimated at $1,200/1,500. In 1928, following many years of Royal patronage, William was granted the Royal Warrant. From 1930, William used the phrase “Potter to Her Majesty the Queen” for promotional material as part of marks on his pottery. This use of the Royal Warrant continued until William’s death after which Queen Mary transferred the Warrant to William’s son Walter Moorcroft who had joined the firm in 1935. Walter continued the running of the pottery in very much the same manner as his father creating many new designs of his own for many years until his retirement in 1987.
Pilkington’s Royal Lancastrian Ware
The products of the Pilkington Art Pottery or more correctly Pilkington’s Tile & Pottery Co. were produced in the same vein as the Art Pottery at the Lambeth Art Pottery which were financed and subsidized by the main commercial business. What became known as the Lancastrian Lustre ware developed through early glaze experiments by William Burton who became Manager of Pilkington’s after having previously been employed as a chemist at Wedgwood’s. By 1893, some hollow-wares were brought in and decorated with William Burton’s recently developed Sunstone glaze to be followed by other crystalline glazes, transmutation glazes and orange peel effect glazes. By 1905, Lancastrian wares were being sold through Tiffany & Co. in New York, and Arthur V. Rose of Tiffany wrote a short pamphlet about the pottery when it was first shown. Many pieces of Lancastrian ware were bought by Sir Casper Purdon Clarke through Tiffany’s and later donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at the height of their popularity and success, not only for their hollow wares but also their increasingly high profile tile production, Pilkington’s were issued with the Royal Warrant, after which the firm was known as Royal Lancastrian.
In 1906 Lancastrian Lustre wares were introduced with metalized true lustre glaze effects. A new kiln was built and a new team of designers employed under the guidance of the new Art Director Gordon M. Forsyth. Designs were also commissioned from eminent outside artists such as Walter Crane, an impressive Pilkington’s Royal Lancastrian lustre plaque 1906, with peacock decoration est. $7/10,000 – pictured right, and Lewis F. Day. As with the Doulton Lambeth pottery, the new designers were allowed to develop their own personal styles and areas of specialization which were largely based on typical, floral, aquatic, animal, bird and mythological subjects. What Gordon Forsyth was able to add to the training of the artists was a strong sense of balance and proportion between the shape of the vessel and the pattern. He also brought a considerable knowledge of heraldic patterns and calligraphy which feature prominently on Pilkington’s Lancastrian ware like the St. George Plaque, measuring 19 inches in diameter and decorated with St. George in pursuit of the dragon winding its way around the border of the plaque (est. $8/12,000).
William de Morgan
William de Morgan came to ceramics almost by accident, while experimenting to reproduce, on ceramics, an iridescent effect found on glass. Through his experiments he succeeded in perfecting a lustrous surface decoration as well as a method of faience decoration. De Morgan’s accomplishments of rediscovering lustre tec hniques not used for centuries was quite outstanding and won him high praise, and his pieces with wonderfully bold Persian inspired patterns (a large two-handled vase decorated with Persian style panels of snakes amongst foliage, est. $10/15,000, pictured right) were frequently exhibited. His use of two or three layers of lustre created some spectacular designs, such as on the large lustre charger lavishly decorate in ruby lustre with whimsical fish included in the Harriman Judd Collection, which measures 20 ½ inches in diameter and is estimated at $5/8,000.
The Harriman Judd Collection also includes 34 lots of studio pottery from some of the major potters of the 20th century, including Dame Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Elizabeth Fritsch and the most influential figure in the history of contemporary studio pottery, Bernard Leach. The main focus of the modern movement, as noted by Leach in his book A Potter’s World (1967), was on the individual potter’s unique style, in reaction to the industrialized production techniques of earlier potteries. Highlights of studio pottery included in the Harriman Judd Collection echo these ideals and include: an Elizabeth Fritsch slip-glazed, stoneware, hexagonal jar: From Nowhere Street circa 1984 estimated at $6/9,000, and a Dame Lucie Rie spiral-glazed stoneware vase circa 1980 (pictured right), measuring 13 5/8 inches and estimated to fetch $6,500/9,500. Also included is a monumental Hans Coper pilgrim flask vase estimated to sell for $60/90,000.
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