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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Majolica in the Movies: "Atonement"

Atonement is the tale of love thwarted by the jealous misunderstanding of a little girl.

The story begins in England shortly before the start of WWII at the manor home of a wealthy family. The eldest daughter, played by Keira Knightly, falls in love with James McAvoy, the son of a servant.
When two children staying with the family fail to appear for dinner one evening the young girl runs to their room to get them and discovers they've run away.

It is when the young girl goes to retrieve the letter that we see the majolica in the children's bedroom. Sitting on the dresser is a large piece of continental ware that looks very much like the work of W.S. Schiler & Son.

There's no way to know for sure of course but the color palette is very much in keeping with the pottery's ware. It could just as easily be the work of one of the other continental potteries of Bohemia many of whom favored subdued earth tones to the brighter colors of English and French ware.

The movie is both beautiful and heartbreaking and this little dab of majolica is just enough distraction from the storyline to aid in making the sadness all bearable.

If any readers are familiar with the piece or the manufacturer we would love to hear about it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wedgwood's Animal Transfer Series Dessert Ware

A recent post on Facebook by a Majolica Society member made us wonder about that unique peculiarity of Wedgwood majolica, their animal transfer decorated series. We've posted the animal transfer decorated tiles previously in our post on Wedgwood majolica tiles, but never really looked at the other area in which these transfers were used, their dessert wares.

They were designed by Henry Hope Grealock in the first decade of Wedgwood's expansion into majolica. Let me begin by saying that all of these transfer decorated pieces are rare. We have only seen a handful of them over the years. In Maureen Batkin's 1982 book, Wedgwood Ceramics 1846-1959, she identifies at least twelve different designs. She further divides these twelve into two different series, the Game series and the Fresco Heads series.
The circa 1875 period of production fits squarely in the middle of the Aesthetic Movement, when there was great interest in ware with natural themes. The period also precedes the introduction of the Wedgwood Argenta line which was introduced in 1878. We have not seen these with Argenta coloration.

The Game series features various images relating to the hunt: quail, hunting dogs, pheasant, hare, squirrel and woodcock. We've only found examples of two of the designs on plates but you can see examples of the remaining designs here as tiles.

The second series Fresco Heads, features various animal heads. Batkin identifies the plate as the Louis XV shape. The designs are: deer, tiger, ram, bull, dog and fox

In addition to these we have also seen two plant focused images that don't belong to either group.

We don't know if there are other designs available but would be interested in hearing from readers if they know of any.

The unusual nature  of these transfer designs appeals to an avid specialty audience of collectors. When these animal transfer wares come up at auction they usually bring very good prices, selling in the $400+ range per plate.

This post has been updated since it was first posted.