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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guilty Pleasures Part 2

Last time, I described some of my guilty pleasures in majolica.
Here are a few more.

I have always loved the design of this platter. If you separate the beautiful design from the terribly garish glaze treatment the plate usually gets, you can appreciate the gorgeous Art Nouveau lines of it with the elegant dragonfly in the center. I always thought it was designed by someone who understood art and great design but glazed by someone who didn't have a clue.

Another guilty pleasure is the large group of mottled wares made by many of the major potteries, particularly Wedgwood and George Jones. The mottling was supposed to imitate tortoise shell or snake skin.
Why I'm not supposed to like these I think has something to do with its retail popularity, which is minimal. I think it's quite gorgeous, but then I'm an artist, I like the way colors flow together when they're allowed to but most people don't seem to like it so it's not fashionable.

The last group of wares I've always liked that I'm not supposed to is the Wedgwood Argenta wares. Dealers who specialize in majolica hate Argenta. It's a very slow seller in the majolica world. Most people buy majolica for the bright colors so it seems natural that those wares with the most restrained color palettes would be the least popular.  I've always loved the restricted colors of Argenta. The combination of colored glazes used are very sophisticated. Maybe they're too sophisticated for most casual observers. Of all the majolica wares I find these to be the most timeless in their appeal. They have a contemporary quality lacking in the more boldly painted wares. They would fit in beautifully among the most austere furnishings.
But don't tell that to a majolica dealer. They're likely to roll on the floor laughing at the idea.

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