Fairyland Lustre: The Art of Daisy Makeig-Jones

A Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Imperial shape bowl, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, the interior gilt and enamelled with Bird in a Hoop pattern against a flame ground, diameter 21cm
A Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Imperial shape bowl, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, the interior gilt and enamelled with Bird in a Hoop pattern against a flame ground, diameter 21cm

The ceramic designer Daisy Makeig-Jones was amongst a rising number of young middle-class women in the early 20th century who sought to break with the social mores of the time by working. Her designs would have an enormous influence on Wedgwood’s new lustre decoration and was she responsible for the revered Fairyland designs.

Daisy Makeig-Jones studied at the Torquay School of Art. A personal introduction by the Revd. Archibald Sorby to his friend Cecil Wedgwood led to her being employed at the Wedgwood factory. She trained for two years on the factory floor as a painter before joining John Goodwin’s design department. John Goodwin had been employed at Wedgwood as art director and brought his skills as a well organised and intelligent designer to the factory at a vital moment in the firm’s history.

Since medieval times lustre ceramics have caught the imaginations of collectors and people across Europe and the Middle East. Softly gleaming gold and pearly rainbows are captured in the potter’s glazes.

The manufacture of lustre wares at Wedgwood in the early 20th century employed new decorating processes. Daisy Makeig-Jones’ designs were engraved to allow their transfer to the objects. Underglaze painting, lustreing and gold printing followed. The lustre was prepared by a ceramic chemist in the form of a brown liquid which was quickly applied in wide sweeping brush stokes before being fired at a low temperature.

Initially the lustre designs included dragon, butterfly and bird motifs.

Daisy Makeig-Jones had delighted in the Colour Fairy Books edited by Andrew Lang in her childhood and these books became an important inspiration to her work. Building on the success of her Wedgwood lustre wares she began work on the Fairyland designs. The first of these was produced by Daisy at the end of 1915.

A Wedgwood Fairyland lustre Imperial shape bowl, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, the interior gilt and enamelled with Picnic by a River pattern, diameter 20cm
A Wedgwood Fairyland lustre Imperial shape bowl, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, the interior gilt and enamelled with Picnic by a River pattern, diameter 20cm

A multitude of designs followed with disparate individual titles and landscapes which often have an illogical dream like quality to them. There were, however, stylistic similarities and motifs which cross over and unite Daisy’s Fairyland designs. These include woodland elves’ fairies, goblins, gnomes, toadstools, spiders’ webs and trees. These can be seen on the richly decorated pair of vases and two bowls illustrated.

The Great Depression and era of austerity brought to a close the success of Daisy Makeig-Jones’ Fairyland lustre. Forced to retire she struggled to come to terms with the end of her remarkable career which had become so closely bound up with her life and identity.

A pair of Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre malfrey pots and covers, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, each decorated with Candelmas design, height 21cm
A pair of Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre malfrey pots and covers, designed by Daisy Makeig-Jones, each decorated with Candelmas design, height 21cm

Today collectors from across the world seek out Fairyland lustre designed by this gifted, influential and determined female ceramic designer. The pieces illustrated realised between £1700 and £7500 at Toovey’s auctions. The rarest examples can fetch tens of thousands today.

It is perhaps a fitting tribute to Daisy Makeig-Jones and her work that it is so highly respected.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Geoffrey Godden, Celebrated Sussex Ceramics Specialist

Three Samuel Alcock botanical dessert plates, circa 1830, presale estimate £100-150
Three Samuel Alcock botanical dessert plates, circa 1830, presale estimate £100-150

The celebrated Sussex ceramics historian, Geoffrey Godden, has for more than fifty years made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of this specialist field. I am excited that he has chosen to enter a number of pieces from his reference collection into Toovey’s specialist sale of English and European Ceramics, on the afternoon of Thursday 28th January 2016.

Geoffrey Godden started in his father’s antiques business in Worthing and although he has an international reputation amongst ceramics collectors and historians he has continued to base himself here in Sussex.

Geoffrey Godden admires a Minton’s vase
Geoffrey Godden admires a Minton’s vase

Geoffrey Godden has published some thirty reference books. I ask him about this remarkable output. His face breaks into a smile as he says “My father always said if you want to know about something write a book about it. He was right. I always wrote about subjects I wanted to know about.”

Geoffrey Godden was first encouraged to write by Hugh Wakefield of the V&A Museum in the early 1960s. Geoffrey’s ‘Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks’ was first published in 1964 and remains in print today. It is still the most comprehensive volume of its type and something of an industry bible. Geoffrey enthuses “An Encyclopaedia has to be all embracing.”

I ask Geoffrey what he first collected and he responds “Lowestoft was my first love. It was available and inexpensive. There is a homely quality to English blue and white. The anglicized interpretations of Chinese decoration are not over sophisticated; they are un-laboured, really, and painted by women and children. There is great appeal to individual handmade things made for use by individuals. It offers an affordable charm and blue and white is the right colour for porcelain!” Geoffrey explains how he corrected an earlier generation’s assumption (based upon a mistake by the ceramics historian, William Chaffers) that many of these English pieces were Chinese Export blue and white porcelain. There are a number of Lowestoft pieces in Toovey’s auction entered by another ceramics collector.

Many summer holidays were spent by Geoffrey researching in Stoke on Trent. Pattern books from the 1820s and 1830s revealed that things that had been previously attributed to the Coalport factory in a generic way were in fact made by Minton’s.

With appearances on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and Going for a Song with Arthur Negus Geoffrey has always had an ability to communicate his passion and understanding of his subject to others. With understated pride he comments “I was an early specialist”. He has delighted in educating the public and remarks “For many years I held lectures and seminars where those attending could handle the reference collection which was displayed on open shelves. It was marvellous to see their appreciation of being able to do this and of the objects.” It is a selection of these reference pieces which are to be sold at Toovey’s.

Keele University has honoured Geoffrey Godden with a Doctorate in ‘recognition of his outstanding contributions to the understanding and appreciation of ceramic art.’ His contribution has in no small measure created a cache for ceramics collecting, something which he describes “as an allowable fault.”

This extraordinary man remains excited about his subject and forward looking. He says “I still like to ask questions. Age in itself is not a virtue. A fine piece of modern pottery can be as fine as a piece of Chelsea. It’s quality that matters, not necessarily age.”

As our conversation draws to a close I ask him what has most delighted him about a career working with ceramics. He reflects that it is the friendships with fellow connoisseurs and a lifetime of questioning and learning which is at its heart. And what advice would he offer to ceramic collectors and historians. He pauses and concludes “You have to handle and view pieces closely – possession is almost vital to understanding.”

Two rare examples of Minton’s flower encrusted porcelain, presale estimate £80-120
Two rare examples of Minton’s flower encrusted porcelain, presale estimate £80-120

The opportunity to handle and own pieces from Geoffrey Godden’s reference collection comes at Toovey’s specialist auction of English and European Ceramics, on the afternoon of Thursday 28th January 2016. For more information and to preview these lots go to www.tooveys.com or telephone Toovey’s specialist, Tom Rowsell, on 01903 891955.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 20th January 2016 in the West Sussex Gazette.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas…

A Daum Nancy enamelled cameo glass winter landscape vase, circa 1905, of oval form, decorated with a continuous snowy scene.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.”

These opening lines from the famous song written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby speak into a bygone image of Christmas. Here in Sussex we often have to wait until spring is almost breaking through before the last gasp of winter brings snow. But the image of gathering with loved ones that the song conjures in our imaginations remains as precious as it has always been.

Perhaps the buyer of this glass winter vase by Daum Nancy (above), from 1905, was dreaming of a white Christmas when they paid £1300 for it at Toovey’s Christmas auction. The acid etched decoration covered all sides of the vase. The landscape would have been painted and acid etched onto the body of the vessel. The three dimensional quality is heightened by the application of enamels; opaque for the snow and polychrome for the village and trees. The decorated vase would have been heated to fuse the enamels to the glass base. The making of each of these individual pieces would have involved numerous craftsmen. Although you sense the cold it’s a welcoming scene and the snow covered treetops really do glisten with the iridescence of the glass.

A Daum Nancy ‘Berluze’ glass vase

The glasshouse at Nancy in France was run by the Daum family from 1875. Most notably, under Jean-Louis Auguste Daum (1853-1909) and his brother Jean- Antoine Daum (1864-1930), the factory produced Art Nouveau glass using a variety of techniques, some of which are seen here. These pieces are usually marked ‘Daum Nancy’ with the cross of Lorraine.

Daum introduced one of the most typical Art Nouveau forms as illustrated by the vase seen here. Vases with these long slender necks were called ‘Berluze’. The shape of this tapering, gently twisting vessel is accentuated by the entwining summer cornflowers which decorate it. It was sold in a Toovey’s specialist auction for £2100.

Daum landscape vases were produced to represent all the seasons with different weather and emblems. Another fine example of this is the oval vase decorated with a summer scene depicted under a setting sun. Today this vase would realise in excess of £1500 at auction.

A Daum Nancy enamelled cameo glass summer landscape vase, of oval form
A Daum Nancy enamelled cameo glass summer landscape vase, of oval form

As Christmas approaches and our preparations and shopping seem ever more urgent bless yourselves with a moment to reflect that our gifts are valuable because they are expressions of our love for one another.

In the words of that famous song –

“May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 16th December 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Scottish Highlands & Royal Worcester

A detail from a potpourri vase painted with highland cattle by John Stinton

From the early 20th century the Royal Worcester porcelain factory produced hand painted porcelain of the finest quality.

The factory brought together many of the country’s leading painters on porcelain. Flowers, fruit, birds and landscapes were painted in exquisite detail. The work that was produced is gifted with a luminosity by the coloured enamels and porcelain. The three dimensional quality of the objects informs and contributes to the richness and life of this art. They were, and remain, highly prized by collectors.

The Scottish Highland scenes are amongst the most sought after of all the Royal Worcester subjects.

A fine pair of Royal Worcester porcelain two handled vases and covers, circa 1903, painted and signed by John Stinton

Royal Worcester acquired the Grainger factory in 1902 and with it the remarkable Stinton family of porcelain painters. John Stinton junior and son Harry painted highland cattle studies, whilst John’s brother, James, concentrated on game birds. They worked alongside Harry Davis and numerous other painters. The Stintons mixed oil of cloves with their paints to stop them drying too quickly. The smell was often remarked upon by colleagues working at the factory!

John Sinton junior did not begin painting on porcelain until he was thirty-five. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Henry, and his father, John. He painted scenes with English and highland cattle, as well as castles and historic buildings. The bodies of the magnificent pair of Royal Worcester vases and covers depict cattle at a water’s edge. It is characteristic of his work that the lower legs of the cattle are hidden from view by water and grass. Dating from 1903 the landscapes are as finely painted as the cattle. They sold in a Toovey’s specialist auction for £5000.

A Royal Worcester porcelain two handled vase, circa 1913, painted and signed by Harry Stinton

The detail of the two highland cattle shown here was also painted by John Stinton. It is taken from a potpourri vase which sold at Toovey’s for £3200. It displays the luminosity of these pieces. The scene is alive, the cows’ eyes glint and the grass appears to move in a highland breeze.

Harry Davis painted a wide variety of subjects including highland landscapes with sheep. He has been described as perhaps the finest ceramic painter of the 20th century. His exceptional natural ability and remarkable individuality can be seen in the small jewel-like potpourri jar and cover which he painted in 1912. The sheep are brought into focus by the marvellous depiction of mist and light on the hills beyond. It realised £1100 at Toovey’s

Harry Stinton was great friends with Harry Davis. Harry Stinton produced highland cattle scenes. His work can be differentiated from his father’s by the purples and autumnal tints in his palette. These can be seen in the study of two highland cattle in a landscape which he painted on the two handled vase in 1913. His work is also highly valued by collectors and it sold at Toovey’s for £1200.

A Royal Worcester porcelain potpourri jar and cover, circa 1912, painted and signed by Harry Davis

Neither John nor Harry Stinton ever visited Scotland. They worked from their imaginations and postcards. For many of us, like John and Harry, our understanding of Scotland is to a large degree informed by the paintings and writings based around the landscape and culture of the Highlands. It was Queen Victoria who placed the royal seal of approval on Scotland. Inspired by the writing of Walter Scott she built her castle at Balmoral which delighted her and Prince Albert. Balmoral and the Scottish Highlands continue to delight our Royal family to this day.

The Act of Union of 1707 brought Scotland and England together to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. There was a desire amongst Scots to uphold their cultural distinctiveness and preserve what was unique and separate about Scotland. During Victoria’s reign our understanding of Scottish identity became romantically bound up with the Highlands. Indeed, this highland myth came to express the very spirit of the Scottish nation.

Our romantic attachment to Scotland endures to the present day which in part explains the delight we take in this porcelain. But in an age of mass production these individual and unique paintings on porcelain unite us not just with their subjects but also with these exceptionally gifted artists. Toovey’s porcelain specialist, Tom Rowsell, is passionate about these pieces and can be contacted at auctions@tooveys.com if you would like his advice.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 2nd September 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Delights of Tin Glazed Earthenware

An English delft flower brick
An English delft flower brick, probably London, circa 1750

Tin glazed earthenware describes the method of decorating fine quality pottery using a technique first developed in Baghdad in the 9th century. In an attempt to rival the glossy whiteness of Chinese porcelain the earthenware was covered with an opaque white glaze.

A pair of 18th Century Dutch Delft blue and white vases
A pair of 18th Century Dutch Delft blue and white vases, decorated after the Chinese, with ormolu mounts

The technique entered Europe through Spain which was under the rule of the Umayyad Muslim caliphate. Tin glazed earthenware arrived in Italy from Spain in the first half of the 13th century. From Italy the method spread throughout Europe.

The technique remained relatively unchanged into the 18th century. After the pottery has been fired it emerges from the kiln as a brownish earthenware. It is then dipped in a glaze made up of oxides of lead and tin combined with silicate of potash. This porous white coat can then be decorated with various metallic oxides, capable of withstanding the high-temperatures of the kiln needed to unite them with the tin glaze and fuse it to the surface of the clay. Blue comes from cobalt, green from copper, purple from manganese, yellow from antimony and orange from iron.

An English polychrome delft circular bowl
An English polychrome delft circular bowl, mid-18th Century, of deep circular form, painted a Chinese pavilion beneath a tree

The colours are absorbed into the glaze as soon as they are applied. No corrections to the painted design is possible. Many art historians liken the process to that of fresco wall painting, rare Saxon examples of which are to be found in a number of Sussex churches. Once decorated the vessel is then given a second firing. This fixes the glaze to the object’s body and melts it to a glossy surface. Lead glaze is commonly applied before firing to enhance the finish.

Tin glazed earthenware is often known as delft. The name derives from the Dutch town of Delft which by the mid-17th century had become the most important centre for the manufacture of tin glazed earthenware. The pair of Dutch Delft vases shown here are decorated with figures in the style of Chinese vases from the 17th century Kangxi period.

An English delft colander bowl
An English delft colander bowl, probably London, circa 1770

Many of my favourite examples of tin glazed delft are those from the 18th century made in the British Isles. Like the Dutch vases they are frequently stylistically influenced by the Chinese imported porcelain of the same date.

The English delft circular bowl, circa 1750, employs the manganese purple, cobalt blue and antimony yellow so typical of high temperature glazes in its depiction of a Chinese pavilion beneath a tree. The restraint and composition of the scene is captivating.

The English delft colander bowl’s exterior is painted with cobalt blue Chinese landscapes. The bands of pierced heart shaped drain holes delight with the flowing foliate decoration. You can see the pouring hole on the inner rim. It is at once beautiful and useful.

A British delft octagonal dish
A British delft octagonal dish, probably Dublin, mid-18th Century, painted with a Chinese style chrysanthemum

There were centres of delft manufacture in Bristol, Liverpool, London, and across the British Isles. The octagonal dish illustrated was probably made in Dublin in the mid-18th century. The chrysanthemum, trellis and flower panels once again show the influence of the Chinese and are beautifully conceived.

I love delft flower bricks. The faces of the rectangular form of this example from the 1750s are delicately painted with flowers. They are confident little objects designed to hold cut flowers.

The finest examples of delft tin glazed earthenware realise tens of thousands of pounds but examples like these can still be bought at auction from between £300 and £1000. They have a delightful provincial quality. Whilst their decoration often reflects the regions in which they were made they connect the collector with the international stylistic influences of their time. Their prices are beginning to rise once again. Perhaps it is time you discovered the delights of collecting tin glazed earthenware!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 4th March 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.