Well in the case of this flask or vase it is certainly Holbein. Although Similar in style to Rembrandt with its portrait cartouche the body immediately tells us it isn’t. Rembrandt ware can be distinguished by its body and typically rough surface indentations, together with its heavier weight.
Yet, it is often harder to distinguish between Holbein and Kingswares as their style of decoration is similar, as it the body used for both. Originally the difference was in the price, the latter being cheaper to produce and indeed Holbein has been referred to as a more expensive product to Kingsware with added individual decoration.
This piece was a Charles Noke design as can be seen from his impresses signature.
Backstamps often help us identify Rembrandt and Holbein wares, however, these were often omitted for one reason or another, so today we must use our detective skills to distinguish between these wares!
Around the turn of the 20th Century there were many exciting introductions at Doulton’s Burslem studios, many the brainchildren of the famous Charles Noke.
Holbein ware is a typical example of Noke’s experimentation with glazes. Holbein wares give the impression of old masters through the use of yellow, green and brown slip on a cream earthenware body. Portraits on these vases were typically by Harry Tittensor and Walter Nunn among others.
Incidentally this name of ware was also given to a series of items including candlesticks and oil lamp bases modelled in an art nouveau style but not bearing any portrait!
Further Holbein pieces not featuring portraits but rather nocturnal animals including owls also appear.
This ware had a special backstamp but it was not always used, creating certain confusion about this particular ware. This ware should not be confused with Rembrandt ware.
L-R Holbein vase, Rembrandt vase and Holbein