Royal Doulton’s early Child figures.

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L-R Darling HN1319 and HN1.

The prominence and popularity of Darling HN1 has proved over the last century that child figures are among the most popular Doulton have produced as part of the HN figure collection. Darling was sculpted by the great Charles Vyse and as was often the case in the first half of the twentieth Century, Charles Noke, Doulton’s art director approached prominent sculptors of the time to provide models for possible inclusion in the collection.  In the first decade of production of the HN collection Darling remained a clear favourite of collectors, it is therefore no surprise to see that many other child studies followed this iconic sculpture. These first studies remained somewhat sculptural, just like Darling, who was succeeded by a line-up of other famous faces including Dolly, Shy Anne HN60, the Coquette HN20 and a handful of Noke’s own studies such as the very rare Boy on Crocodile HN373.

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Shy Anne HN65.

It was not until the 1920’s when a former apprentice modeller from their Lambeth factory, one Leslie Harradine, began to submit models to Doulton in Burslem that the typical figures we all now know as child figures began to emerge.

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A group of Harradine children.

Harradine revolutionised the collection from the very start, introducing much slicker lines and also a smaller size in figure.

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A group of early 1930’s child figures.

Classic Harradine child figures such as Betty HN1404 and Pinkie HN1552 are easily recognisable not only as Doulton but also as the work of Harradine. His ability to interpret moods and trends was unrivalled at the time and I am sure all other factories would have been envious of Doulton’s great in house talent. Ironically no visit by Harradine was ever recorded to Burslem, instead former employees recall the monthly arrival of a parcel from Harradine and the stir it would cause in the factory. It is a tribute to Harradine that so few prototypes from his time as lead figure sculptor have turned up, indicating that the majority of his models actually went into production.

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Three deco children: Monica, Pinkie and Rosebud.

Harradine’s ability and versatility brought us a long line of youthful figures including Rose HN1368 and Marie HN1370, an aptly named pairing available in several complimentary colourings, Bo-Peep HN1810 and Cissie HN1808 another pairing and other popular figures such as Diana HN1716, Lily HN1798 and Nana HN.

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Rose and Marie in complimentary colourways.

Yet, Harradine did not restrain himself to small size figures and his large size Estelle is still highly sought after by collectors the world over.

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Estelle HN1566.

One of the last child study series modelled by Harradine and introduced by Doulton was a set of Nursery Rhyme figures. Harradine, together with a then new but equally talented modeller, Peggy Davies, were set the task of interpreting key figures from popular children’s nursery rhymes for this set. I am sure you will all agree the effectiveness of these models secures both artists reputations as expert modellers as each study is the embodiment of the verse it represents.

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Four nursery rhymes characters including a prototype of Little Miss Muffit.

The fact that several of these key figures within the HN collection remained in production until close to the millennium confirms the popular demand the world over for child studies, something that Doulton to this day continues to ‘feed’ with the introduction of new child studies. As seems to always be the case imitation should be construed as flattery and so to finish, here is a version of Darling made by another Staffordshire pottery next to a Doulton version from 1934 – the quality of the Doulton model leaps out.

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Doulton’s Darling HN1319 together with an inferior copy

 

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