Category Archives: Art deco

Royal Doulton’s very own Darby and Joan

We are all no doubt familiar with the archetypical image of an old couple living out their time together quite contentedly and of course that is where the label ‘Darby and Joan’ originates.

Royal Doulton’s great modeller Leslie Harradine will certainly have been familiar with the many paintings and images of this famous pair including this image….

…with its stark similarities to his figures. As you can see both Harradine’s figures and the figures in the painting are dressed in 18C dress and it is from this time that the saying was in common use.

Darby HN 1427 and Joan HN 1422, both dates 1930.

This charming pair were introduced in 1930 and withdrawn at some point during WWII, before being reintroduced with a band of their most popular figures with a new HN number and paired down detail in the modelling. The latter were in production from 1949-59.

Royal Doulton’s Pierette

An early colourway of Pierette

The 1920s and 1930s were the age of the Pierrot. In 1923 Gertrude Lawrence sang Parisian Pierrot in Noël Coward’s revue ‘London Calling’, during the same era JB Priestly wrote a popular book about a Pierrot concert party called The Good Companions with the late Sir John Gielgud as the romantic Lead and there was even a Pierrot themed variety show which ran for 500 performances between 1921-1926.

Yet, it wasn’t just on stage that this phenomenon could be seen. During this time advertising was littered with Pierrots extolling the virtues of particular brands including Tom Smith’s crackers and even Kiwi Boot Polish, which even today is a brand we may be familiar with.

Royal Doulton naturally cottoned on to this trend and their then leading modeller, Leslie Harradine, certainly had his finger on the pulse of this popular trend with his wonderful study Pierette.

HN 731, 642, 643, 644 and 721.

Originally introduced as an 18cm Figure (model 445) and available in no less than eight different colourways, she was later introduced in a larger size in earthenware as HN 1391 (1930) and again later as HN 1749 (1936) and measuring 23cm. There is a lesser known third version of Pierette, this time in miniature. Never officially produced as part of the HN or M collections, she occasionally turns up to delight collectors. A most unusual flambé version of the miniature Pierrette has also been found.

Versions 1 and 3 HN 644 and 1391

As with all Royal Doulton figures the shorter the production run, the more sought after the figure today. Although HN 644 eventually turns up the other colourways and sizes of her are more difficult to find.

HN 1391 and 1749

Happy hunting!

For those interested in the origins of Royal Doulton figures I can recommend Reflections by Jocelyn Lukins and Christopher Evans.

Royal Doulton seascapes

Inspired by lots in Whitley’s Auctioneers’ sale in just over a week, which will take place as part of a Royal Doulton Convention and Auction weekend January 12-14 (2018) in Orlando, I thought it the perfect opportunity to look more closely at some examples of Royal Doulton’s sea themed work.

Just as with paintings and photography, the sea and sea-life have long provided inspiration for ceramic painters and those at Royal Doulton have produced some magnificent examples covering a wide spectrum of their ranges produced, particularly those wares we today class as Burslem products.

A magnificent Flambé vase with gilded fish against a Sung background.

The wonderful Mermaid figure displayed according to the contemporary advert from 1917.

1920s lustre vase with seascape.

A unique Titanian bowl.

An early Burslem seascape which would probably have had plated fittings to form a biscuit barrel or the like.

For further information on Whitley’s Auctioneers upcoming sale to include many star Royal Doulton works of art, visit:

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/auctioneer/6087/whitley-s-auctioneers/

 

Royal Doulton’s Willow Story Pattern.

This familiar design is and was produced by many China manufacturers since the late 18th Century, although Royal Doulton created their own colour scheme aside from the traditional blue and white.

In all there are 6 scenes to collect detailing the lives of Chang and Koongshee, all with appropriate titles to their reverse. Each scene although vaguely Chinese in style, is in fact a European interpretation of oriental life and the characters portrayed were conceived sometime in the early 1800s.

Produced from 1920 and withdrawn sometime around the time of WWII, Willow Pattern Story has been found on plates, a cup and saucer and most recently the meat platter illustrated.

Royal Doulton’s ever popular miniature Polly Peachum figures.

Polly Peachum and her counterparts hold a special place in the hearts of many figure collectors due to her prominent appearance in the HN Collection from 1921 until WWII. Polly is central to Royal Doulton’s first series of figures, designed by Leslie Harradine, and each is based on the Lovett Fraser costumes for the 1920 revival of the opera at the Lyric in Hammersmith, London.

A display of miniature Polly Peachums in an appropriately sized display!

Originally produced in a typical larger size as two models – one standing HN463 (with 6 other colourways) and one curtsying (again with 4 more colourways), the latter is often referred to as Polly Curtsey in early publicity for the Beggars Opera series.

A 1925 calendar with Polly dated 1925.

It is the latter model (316) or second version of Polly that has inspired this post, for as a miniature figure she can be found in more recorded and unrecorded colourways than any other Royal Doulton figure.

Polly mounted on a bell push.

Today she can still be found mounted in all manner of useful objects from calendars to bell pushes, and a host of other objects in between! Whilst more easily found versions of her such as M21 in pink are relatively inexpensive, other more unusual versions can easily reach four figure sums, which considering her diminutive size (6cm) is quite astonishing!

One of a number of colourways that Polly can be found in!

Interestingly the first versions of this miniature Polly appeared in 1925 as part of the HN, thus pre-dating the M series and it is from this period that most unrecorded variations appear. There were 8 original HN colourways of her and the most popular were incorporated into the M series upon its launch in 1932.

Another variation of our heroine!

Questions around the markings on the bases of some of these early versions remain unanswered including why some carry early HN numbers such as HN8. My explanation is that these seemingly erroneous references actually refer to the colour of early full size HN figures such as the Crinoline and Picardy Peasant which have been given to Polly as well.

Polly labelled HN1265 to her base, referencing her colourway based on Lady Fayre HN1265.

Royal Doulton’s ducks, drakes and mallards….

Two drakes and a duck in the medium size c.6″.

Birds featured heavily in the earliest items produced as part of Royal Doulton’s famous HN Collection, which for a generation means simply their legendary figure collection.


A selection of small size drakes and ducks.

The earliest models produced for the range in 1913 were actuallyanimals and there are collectors out there who have managed to source some wondrous and rare examples of these animals.


A further early illustration of medium size mallards, including a spill vase version HN2544.

Doulton themselves were somewhat easygoing when it came to actually naming their animals correctly and occasional slips by them are easily excusable when you see the quality of detail and modelling that was achieved so early on in the 20th century.

A rare and early duck.

When talking about ducks, there are typically large, medium and small examples tombe found of most, although rare character figures of ducks exist such as the example illustrated. Moreover, the large size was added to the Presige range.


A large size ‘Drake’ and Penguin from 1938.

Typically later HN numbers simply refer to modified decoration and some later post WWII examples are very similar to much earlier productions. 


A 1920 publicity photograph featuring some of Doulton’s bird models. 

Royal Doulton’s Masquerade pair.

The sheer variety of early figures in Royal Doulton’s HN collection illustrates the lengths that were gone to, to appeal to early collectors as the company tried to discover a popular house style.


Title page of an early figure catalogue.

Of course by the time the Masquerade pair appeared in 1924, the great Leslie Harradine had already been supplying models to the Burslem art studios for a few years. 


A burnished gold HN636 Masquerade.

During the early 20thC there was huge interest in masked and costume balls and the latter must have inspired this pairing and other Chelsea inspired figures from a bygone age in English china manufacturing. 


Masquerade (female) HN 600.


‘Kissing’ Masqueraders HN 600 in china and HN 683 in earthenware.

Interestingly the two Doulton models’ bases fit so that the couple can kiss if the owner so wishes. They appear in this 1920’s figure catalogue titled Personalities and Porcelain along with a group of other early figures. Also of interest to note is that HN683 and HN 637 the last versions of each were actually made in earthenware rather than china like the other versions.


Masquerade HN 599 & 636.

Typical of Doulton’s studios they also experimented with this pair and a handful of other figures, producing examples in burnished gold with ivory face and hand details, imitating gold/bronze and Ivory figurative sculptures from the art nouveau era.