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Child studies have always been popular with Royal Doulton collectors, and from the launch of the HN range child studies have played a key role in the range. We all know of course the famous story behind Darling HN1 modeled by Charles Vyse, but collectors are sometimes surprised to see that Leslie Harradine, perhaps the most collected of all Royal Doulton modellers, also created many charming portraits of children. With six children of his own he certainly had much in real life to base his models on. Unfortunately we do not know if any of the figures he supplied to Royal Doulton were based on any of his own children, but we do know a few of the sources he used.
If you look at my book ‘Reflections’ you will see a section dedicated to Molly Benatar and Harradine based his Miss Muffet HN1937 clearly on one of Benatar’s designs for Raphael Tuck, the greetings card specialist. Even the coloring of this figure is copied from the original.
Miss Muffet HN1937 and Molly Benatar’s ‘When hearts are young’ illustration
A recent discovery of mine is also that Nana HN1766 is based on another of Benatar’s pictures. The skirt, the hair and the hat worn identify Nana.
Molly Benatar illustration and Nana HN1766
Another of Harradine’s most popular child studies is Sweeting and she , dressed in her party frock, was inspired by an advert for the once eminent London department store Marshall and Snellgrove.
Other child figures by Harradine simply reflect childhood at its most innocent, consider Pyjamas HN1942 or To bed HN1805, either of whom could have been anyone of us in our early years. Harradine was able to capture a certain charm in his child studies, just as his did so perfectly with the bevy of ladies in so many varying guises, that he now is famed for.
One particularly popular child figure is Marie HN1417 introduced in 1930. A purple version of this figure was made up until 1988. Originally made as a pair to Rose HN1368, they can both be found in complimentary as well as contrasting colorways, and more unusually you can find them mounted on bookends and other objects. The enduring popularity of Rose meant that a new colorway HN2123 was introduced in 1983.
As with most Harradine figures, his child studies were also issued in several colourings. Particular favourites of mine are Lily HN1789, Ruby HN1724 and Diana HN1716. All three young girls display perfectly with their taller counterparts. Harradine understood precisely Royal Doulton’s requirements and when a popular theme was established he sought to develop it further. The world-famous Royal Doulton street sellers is one such case where a child study, namely Linda HN2106 was introduced to expand that series.
A final figure I would like to bring to your attention is The Rocking Horse HN2072. This particular figure I am sure you will agree is simply charming. The only reason I can summise for its short production (1951-53) is that the figure was too costly to produce. The inspiration for the piece is no doubt the film The Rocking Horse Winner from 1949, where the young hero discovers he can predict race winners by rocking his horse.
The Rocking Horse HN2072
It is indeed an arduous task to try and re-assemble something long after the event, but for many years I have been trying to find out as much as possible about the early figure painting department at Burslem. The changes these early artists must have witnessed and the speed at which they occurred must have been mind blowing.
One artist whose monogram appears time and again on the bases of figures from the 1920-40’s is Eric Webster, born in 1896. Eric retired from Doultons in December 1962 and the last remaining link to what was known as the ‘Noke’ school of artists was lost. Originally engaged by John Slater, the first Art Director at Burslem, Eric served most of his years under the guidance of Charles J. Noke who succeeded John Slater as Art Director.
Eric at work 14th October 1953
Eric was born and bred in the potteries and attended the Tunstall School of Art. When he arrived at Doultons he was engaged with painting plates and vases, and although a versatile artist – landscapes were a preferred theme. As the Doulton archive itself describes, around the time of the First World War, C. J. Noke began introducing ‘small pieces of sculpture in the shape of Victorian type figures and small animal models.’ This was of course the launch of the now famous HN collection and Eric together with Harry and Charles Nixon were the first three to be engaged in the decoration of the figures and animals. Eric being principally involved in the latter’s decoration. Incidentally the HN numbers we all know originated from the initials for Harry Nixon, just mentioned. However, Eric must have been prolific painter as his monogram is readily found on figures too from the 1930’s.
There were many high points to his long career with Doulton. Notably the painting of the first Championship Dog model ‘Lucky Star of Ware’ and later the model of the present Queen’s horse Monaveen, that was produced for her visit to the Doulton premises in Burslem, when still a princess in 1949 (see the video link already posted for actual footage of this famous visit). Eric reportedly visited the stables to take sketches in colour so as to ensure accuracy in the actual painting.
A publicity shot of Monaveen, not available to purchase
Animal painting was clearly a forté of his and it was no surprise in ca. 1925 that he was entrusted to take charge of a newly created department responsible for animal painting.
In his later career, Eric was responsible for painting prestige pieces, which were made to order. Here he is seen collecting a cheque and gifts from his friends at Doulton, including a naturalistic fox painted by himself!
Eric at his retirement presentation, holding the large fox model
If you look at the bases of your figures and early animals check for an ‘EW’ or ‘EAW’ and that is our man!
One final area I would like to touch on is the Doulton Lambeth factory. Whilst worldwide acclaim had been found since Victorian times with the works of Tinworth and also Hannah Barlow , their particular styles belonged to a bygone age and taste by the time the 1920’s had dawned.
Examples of Tinworths skill and artistry
Examples of Hannah Barlow’s high Victorian style
Without doubt the skill of these two great Lambeth artists cannot be denied, but as Leslie Harradine himself once commented, he preferred the amusing Tinworth mice to the dreary biblical plaques so preferred by Tinworth. The styles of these two artists hardly changed over the course of their careers, unlike many others whose designs remained fresh, even long after their productions. Consider the work of Mark Marshall here.
16″ Marshall vase together with a press review of the centenary celebrations of the Lambeth factory in 1915 at which the same vase was displayed
In stark contrast to the grotesques he favoured either side of the turn of the 20th Century, here you can see an example of his work which even today seem remarkably up to date.
Similarly we have Eliza or Elise Simmance. She is unarguably one of the most versatile of all the Lambeth artists. Consider here a selection of her works from the beginning to the end of her career.
Early and later example of Simmance’s versatile style
Below is an excerpt from a Doulton brochure from the deco period. As you can see there was an emphasis on colour and shape. More interestingly is the fact that Doulton chose to advertise just pieces which could be reproduced rather than artist pieces – it was after all in business to sell, sell, sell. These production pieces, or ‘Late Editions’ as they have become known were of course designed by Lambeth’s major artists including Mark Marshall, Francis Pope, Leslie Harradine and Margaret Thompson amongst others.
Catalogue page ca. 1934
I am a particular fan of Margaret Thompson’s work, whether it be her Late Edition pieces, her wonderful faience work on vases and tiles or even her artist pieces in Stoneware.
A stylish Margaret Thompson jardinière, an example of her faience work and three late edition pieces ca. 1920
And there we draw to a close with out restrospective into Doulton wares from the 1920’s and 1930’s. I hope that you have learned something new and also seen that in order to stay ahead of their rivals Doulton was ready to welcome the decadent 20’s, and change production accordingly.
I would like to thank Seaway China for the use of their picture library together with my own Ventafile, and of course if you have any questions relating to our talk or indeed anything else Doulton please just ask !
The introduction of Doulton’s ‘Character Jugs’
Together with the re-establishment of Staffordshire figure production, Noke senior also strived to re-introduce the long neglected production of Staffordshire Toby Jugs. Thus in the swinging 20’s Noke’s toby jugs of Charlie Chaplin and George Robey were introduced.
The very rare Charlie Chaplin toby jug
These are very rare today, and a further jug of a Huntsman from 1919 were the sole productions, until Doulton introduced their own version of the traditional Toby Jug, more commonly known to us as Character Jugs. Unlike the traditional Toby Jug, Doulton’s Character Jugs focussed on only the head of their character. Thus in 1934 the first Jugs, John Barleycorn and Old Charley, were introduced.
The ever popular John Barleycorn and Old Charley jugs
They were swiftly followed by many other instantly recognisable faces including Sairey Gamp, Dick Turpin and Parson Brown. The first reference to character jugs is recorded in Doulton’s factory design books in 1935. Before the end of 1934 another modeller was coming to the fore of character jug design, he was Harry Fenton, who together with Charles Noke, jointly and later separately were responsible for all the jugs introduced until 1948. The range was quickly expanded to include small size jugs in 1935, and then a medium size in 1938 of 6 dickens jugs, which proved unpopular and were withdrawn in 1948.
Since that time we have grown used to referring to large, small, miniature and tiny jugs. A more recent attempt at medium jugs has been tried but that is for a future article! The late 1930’s also saw the introduction of the first Character Jug derivatives including tobacco jars, musical jugs and even tea pots.
Three wonderful Old Charley derivatives
The beginning of WWII brought the inevitable slowing down of production and the introductions of new jugs just as it did with the figure department, although prototypes were being made such as the infamous Maori and the white matt Winston Churchill loving cup of 1941, produced specially for the ‘American and Empire markets’.
Three views of the famous Winston Chruchill jug
With many hundreds of Jugs having now been introduced, amongst them variations, prototypes and others with often subtle variations, this area of collecting Doulton often becomes intense with a few die hard collectors willing to part with tens of thousands of dollars to secure that one piece. This fever is fuelled by specialist books on the subject as well as many clubs and societies the world over. Here you can see a selection of particular raritites and favourites…..
An ever popular book on the subject is Jocelyn Lukins’ Collecting Doulton Character Jugs, available exclusively through the link below:
The Burslem Art Deptartment
A view of Royal Doulton’s Nile Street preimises Buslem, England
Charles Noke continued to experiment with glazes long after the departure of Cuthbert Bailey with whom he had perfected the Flambé glaze in the early 1900’s. And so in 1920 Sung was introduced, whereby painted decoration, colour and gilt are fused with the a flambé glaze. I am sure you will agree that from this publicity photograph the pieces are magnificent. However, it is in the flesh that these pieces must be enjoyed to full effect as in this slide. Vases, large and small were decorated with exotic birds, pixies in woodlands, fish in seascapes along with many other subjects. These pieces were painted principally by Harry Nixon, Arthur Eaton and Fred Moore. Sung glazes can be found on Buddhas, as seen here in this advert from the 1920’s, a handful of suitable early figures from the HN range such as A Spook, as well as animals, in particular elephants, a favourite of Charles Noke.
Orignial Sung advert ca. 1920
Another magnificent addition to the Burslem range in 1920 was the Chinese Jade glaze, imitating the ancient Chinese glazes of centuries before, by using a thick white glaze streaked with green. Pieces of Chinese Jade are exceptionally rare, due to the costliness of production, together with the high proportion of rejects due to the inherent difficulties in achieving this technique.
Chinese Jade lidded bowl with ‘Despair’ HN596 as the finial (the name of this figure is only a name given when the original figure book was published in 1978 as there is no record of its actual name).
A variation of this ware exists whereby the green streaks are replaced by blue ones, and this extraordinarily rare glaze is aptly named Lapisware.
A very rare Lapisware lamp base
A final glaze worthy of inclusion here is perhaps the most magnificent of all. Chang ware was introduced in 1925 and involved a thick body upon which multi-coloured thick glazes were allowed to run and crackle – contrary to all usual pottery rules.
Original Chang catalogue cover
The results you can see from this slide are breathtaking. Nothing like this glaze had been sen before even in ancient times, and it was greeted by worldwide acclaim. Chang pieces are usually found with the monogram for Harry Nixon on their bases together with Noke, for either Charles or Jack Noke, who succeeded his father as art director in the late 1930’s. The addition of Noke’s name signified the quality such work achieved.
Chang ginger jar and cover
I have already mentioned Doulton Seriesware briefly, with Dickensware as it is now known, and whilst the majority of patterns pre-date the 1920’s new patterns which reflected current tastes and interests were all the while being introduced.
Sample of Dickensware
However older designs such as Dickensware pictured above continued to be big sellers around the world. Here below, we can see examples of the Gnomes series introduced in 1920’s.
Gnomes catalogue page ca. 1924
This is often labelled as Doulton’s version of Wedgewood’s famous fairyland lustre ware by Daisy Makeig Jones. A number of further patters, and one which I feel is much more reflective of the mood of the 1920’s, is this pattern ‘Surfing’ introduced in 1926.
Surfing catalogue page ca. 1924
Once again we can see the popular image of bathers which we have already met when discussing figures, and again in particular women in bathing costume, perfectly illustrates to us today the popularity of the Lido or outside pool and also the beginnings of world-travel beyond the very wealthy. Other patterns introduced during the 1920’s reflect the continued interest in sports such as hunting, seen here with ‘The Quorn Hunt’, which today claims to be one of the world’s oldest hunting packs and in the UK to be our most famous hunt, although fox hunting is now illegal.
The Quorn Hunt catalogue page ca. 1924
Also from the 1920’s we have ‘Kensington Gardens’, which feature silhouettes in this most famous of London’s parks.
Kensington Gardens catalogue page ca. 1924
One final seriesware pattern I would like to mention is Aldin’s Dogs, of course taken from illustrations and drawings by the popular British artist Cecil Aldin. Aldin was not just famous for his animal pictures but also his works of rural life and sport. Doulton were to introduce in the following decade a series of so-called Dogs of Character based on Aldin’s work. However, here you can see from this catalogue page how his work was effectively used as a seriesware pattern, and to explain the popularity of this pattern today, remember we British are reputedly more keen on our dogs than our countrymen!
Aldin’s Dogs catalogue page ca. 1924
There we finish with the Burslem Art Department of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Yet, as you have seen many of what we term our most prized possessions today hail from this period.
Next we will look at the introduction of Character Jugs in the 1930’s!