Category Archives: Artists

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This charming pair were introduced in 1930 and withdrawn at some point during WWII, before being reintroduced with a band of their most popular figures with a new HN number and paired down detail in the modelling.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

Doulton’s Lactolian Wares

Produced briefly around the turn of the 20C, Lactolian wares were proof if any were needed that the Doulton band of artists could equal the work by the great Sèvres and Minton works and is in fact Doulton’s own version of the two aforementioned firms exquisite pâte-sur-pâte ware.

A beautiful Lactolian vase we saw recently at the National Gallery of Melbourne with members of the DCC.

This particular ware uses the same Parian body that John Slater (the original art directed at Burslem) had developed for Noke’s Vellum wares.

An exhibition quality trumpet vase in Lactolian.

Interestingly Lambeth collectors will tell us that they had previously also perfected this technique and among several key artists was one Florence Barlow who used this method extensively in her work. Examples of Doulton’s Lambeth pâte-sur-pâte were shown at the 1878 Paris Exhibition.

The production run of Lactolian ware was brief and thus today it is fiercely sought by collectors. The last piece I recall seeing was this vase at Bonhams in London a few years ago and it sold for a four figure sum despite its diminutive size.

The incredibly short production run was due in no small part to the production cost. Desmond Eyles in Doulton Burslem Wares describes how one medium size vase could sometimes cost £100-£200 and could take nearly a month to complete.

The base of a saucer with the Lactolian name, although that was not always used on every item produced.

Among the small group of artists linked to this ware other than Slater himself, was perhaps naturally Robert Allen who no doubt was responsible for the designs used. It will be of no surprise to also see the name William Skinner, master gilder at Burslem at this time.

A delicate cup and saucer in the Lactolian technique dating to 1902 and carrying an RA number too, telling us today that it came from the studio of Robert Allen.

Royal Doulton’s Dancers of the World – by Peggy Davies

Between 1977 and 1982 Royal Doulton released this selection of twelve dancers of the world, each in a limited edition of 750. As with all of Peggy’s figures, the range proved highly popular and collectors today are equally enthralled by the movement and spirit they embody. Interestingly, it was not Peggy but in fact Bill Harper who originally suggested theseries and he even produced two figures before the concept was completed by Peggy. These exquisitely researched and executed figures represent all four corners of the world: Africa, America, Asia and Europe.

Royal Doulton Kingsware Clocks

It is unusual to think of Collecting just clocks but of course there are dedicated clock collectors out there. When it comes to Royal Doulton, collectors are usually happy with one or two examples, unless we’re talking about Kingsware collectors!

Clocks have been produced at both Lambeth and Burslem over the years and even in relatively modern times. Stoneware examples are naturally magnificent and by greats such as Tinworth, although more modest Silicon examples were also produced at Lambeth which can be bought relatively modestly today.

Two “Monk” scene clocks; the right hand one signed by Noke and C. Vyse (not to be confused with the sculptor of Darling HN1)

The topic here is Kingsware and there are a handful of wonderful art nouveau designs that can be found as part of this range. So far (that’s always the way to think) there have been five subjects found on Kingsware clocks, which themselves have been recorded on three shapes.

The five characters are:

A. Night Watchman

B. Alchemist

C. Pied Piper

D. Monk

E. Jester

Whilst many remain undated, I did once see an Alchemist one dated 1904 and imaging the others to date from this period given their art nouveau decoration.

Rare Jester clock with verse (not shown)

Patience is the watchword when embarking on collecting this series of clocks, not to mention deep pockets! Yet, that is what makes collecting rewarding, isn’t it?

Royal Doulton goes Dutch Harlem!

An early catalogue page c.1910 featuring Dutch Harlem.

At a time when Holland and all thins Dutch were ‘de rigueur’ Royal Doulton produced various Dutch themed pieces including figures in their HN collection, examples of handpainted wares and also 8 different Dutch themed seriesware designs.

Four pin trays illustrating how scenes could be manipulated and also the variation in colours that can be found.

The focus here is Dutch Harlem, one of Royal Doulton’s most enduringly popular designs of all seriesware patterns. Designed by the great Charles Noke and introduced in 1904, this series alone contained 35 scenes and remained in production until c.1943.

A selection of unusual shapes featuring Dutch Harlem.

As was typical scenes were gradually introduced and even adapted. Such adaptations included enhancing the colours used and introducing new shapes to be used.

Unusual match box cover and stand.

A particularly unusual version of Dutch Harlem was produced exclusively for the great London store Liberty’s, and further exclusive productions of biscuit barrels were produced for the biscuit manufacturers McVitie and Price.

A variety of Dutch themed seriesware items produced by Royal Doulton, including Dutch Harlem.

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/