Category Archives: Reflections

Royal Doulton’s tribute to the American actress Doris Keane.

Doulton’s accurate representation of the famous American actress in the risqué play ‘Romance’ first performed in 1913 in the states before travelling to the UK two years later, proved a popular figure as you will see.

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A Lambeth version of Doris Keane together with her later, miniature self.

Doris plays an Italian opera singer, an over the top character who always wears black and carries a pet monkey.

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HN 96 with her carrying the pet monkey!

The story follows the ill fated love story of the opera singer and a clergyman. He gives her his mothers pearls and pendant – which can be seen in all versions of this figure – but she realises her past would ruin his career so the two part declaring their undying love.

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An unusual gloss version of HN 90 sold at Bonhams.

Their love scenes, the role of the clergyman and Doris’ undressing on stage made the play a transatlantic success! When she arrived in England she was mobbed and Romance played for over a thousand performances in London alone!

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An unusual hard paste porcelain body version of Doris Keane by John Broad ca.1919. The porcelain body was another invention of Lambeth’s art director Joseph Mott.

This Lambeth version of Doris Keane above would eventually be remodelled and produced in china at Burslem under the name Rosamund and as you can see also above a miniature version was also issued. The two earlier Burslem versions of Doris Keane as Cavallini HN90 & 96 were a monumental 26-28 cms tall, typical of early figures in the HN collection.

Reflections: the source of Harradine’s popular figure Phyllis.

As you know it is a real interest of mine to research where figures derive their inspiration. Those who have read my book ‘Reflections’ with Jocelyn, will have seen the section on the illustrator Jennie Harbour.

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Very little is known about the illustrator but her work can be found on Tuck’s postcards as well as in many editions of deco books from the time. Her illustrations remain popular today around the world and framed, vintage prints can sell for a fair sum.

Back to Phyllis, as you can see she has been expertly interpreted from Jennie Harbour’s illustration ‘Sweet Nell’ by Harradine. Here she is as HN1486, although the most readily found version is HN1420 as it was clearly the most popular colourway. I have always felt that she makes the perfect partner to Dolly Vardon save for the base on Phyllis. Perhaps there is a version if Phyllis out there without a base. As we know modifications were frequent on these early figures, and we looked at how a stepped vase was added to Harradine’s Helen some time ago.

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A look back at Harradine’s Lady Clare.

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The official Lady Clare HN1465.

This unusual figure had a relatively short production run from 1931-37 and examples rarely turn up. She takes her inspiration from this Jennie Harbour picture titled ‘My Ladye’ from her ‘Victorian’ series for Raphael Tuck the card manufacturers. As you can see the original Harradine model has a base with a foot protruding from under her skirt, just like the original picture. This makes her 1.5cms taller than the production model.

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A prototype of Lady Clare pictured with her inspiration.

As well as HN1465 there is another colourway of Lady Clare that has emerged and there appear to be a handful of examples of this colour scheme in collections around the world.

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Two versions of Lady Clare; a colourway and a prototype.

Perhaps you also have variations of early figures? If do why not share with our ‘Doulton Collectors Club’ page on Facebook?

The enchanting Lizana – another one not included in Reflections!

Inspired to share this next piece by a fellow collector who cherishes her Doulton figure Lizana, here is the inspiration behind her – a contemporary cigarette advert! Not quite PC today but the effort and detail put into advertising this brand of Abdulla cigarettes is to be marvelled, especially the rhyme at the bottom!

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(C) Christopher Evans 2014

W S Penley as CHARLEY’S AUNT (second version)  Issued in 1930 H. Fenton

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The contempory theatre greatly influence Noke’s figurine range. W S Penley was popular in his role in Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, where he plays an Oxford undergraduate who impersonates an “Aunt from Brazil” who is to act as chaperone to some young ladies  he and his friends wish to entertain. Charley’s Aunt ran for 1,466 performances after opening in 1913. On various anniversaries ladies in the audience were presented with a Doulton figurine of the main character commissioned by the author Brandon Thomas. About 500 – 600 of this commissioned figure were given away, together with a range of other souvenirs of the performances like those in the advert above. Early in his career in 1916, Noel Coward played the part of Charley.

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A contemporary picture and version 2 of this unusual figure, modeled in an identical post and holding a cup of tea.

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The figure was modelled by Albert Toft (1862 – 1949 ) who taught Leslie Harradine at Camberwell School of Art at evening classes when he was completing his apprenticeship at Doulton Lambeth. Toft  himself had studied at Stoke on Trent and  later at the Royal College of Art.

Tinkle Bell’s inspiration – another one that didn’t make the final cut…

Another picture for you all to add to your lists of pictures that inspired figures is this charming child study by  an unknown artist ‘Pieperhoff’.

As Jocelyn and I were selecting the themes we would include in our book Reflections: Doulton Figures as a Mirror of their Times, it was inevitable that we could not include everything we had found.

Typical of this time, many unknown artists’ work was used for greetings cards, in a similar vein to those published by Raphael Tuck and Valentine & Co. that we have already looked at.

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Pieperhoff’s sentimental child study that inspired Tinkle Bell HN1677 below.

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This particular illustration was clearly popular at the time (1930’s) as it can be found relatively readily and I have a miniature and a larger (30cm by 20cm) version.

A short video to advertise my book Reflection – Royal Doulton figures as a reflection of their times

Follow this link for a sample of pages and a brief explanation of the book!

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