A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Monday, August 30, 2010

Majolica Spotlight: Lear's Sunflower & Classical Urn and Narcissus

Few majolica patterns embody the precepts of the Aesthetic Movement more than Lear's Sunflower and Classical Urn pattern. Registered in August of 1887, the pattern is a mad explosion of rigidly organized abstraction typical of Japanese design mixed with images from the Aesthetic Movement. As the symbol of the movement itself, the sunflower was the primary focus of the pattern. The classical urn was a design device used quite a bit during this period, appearing in hundreds of different motifs including the two Wedgwood patterns below.

In addition there are conventionalized flowers, and other contemporary motifs worked into the pattern. The entire pattern is given a pastel treatment of brilliant turquoise, lavenders, yellows and pink against an ivory ground.

Sunflower and Classical Urn was a successful and extensively utilized pattern for the company, made in everything from huge tea trays to cuspidors to cane stands. I have seen few marked examples.

It spawned an almost identical twin, Narcissus, where the sunflower and urn were replaced by intertwined red Narcissus flowers. 

Both patterns are colorful, readily found and reasonably priced. They're a wonderful way of bringing a bit of the 19th Century Aesthetic Movement to your 21st Century home.

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