Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: September 2016

Pearlware

Pearlware was a type of pottery popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was an improvement to creamware as it produced a whiter ware, mainly due to the application of a cobalt glaze which resulted in a change of colour from cream to an almost perfect white, with slight blue tinge.

It is largely accepted that Josiah Wedgwood was the first potter to use the term ‘Pearl White Ware’ and he began selling it under this name in 1779. He is subsequently also credited for the invention of pearlware as it is well documented in his personal letters that he pursued the creation of a white earthenware body and colourless or opaque glaze. Although there is evidence to show that the addition of cobalt was used well before Wedgwood it had never been marketed with the success he managed.

Pearlware was used by many pottery manufacturers including Staffordshire and Swansea. It was used for tableware but also for decorative pieces like figures, jugs and wall brackets. Staffordshire, in particular, used it for many of their figures.

The most popular colour to use as an underglaze was blue but other colours include yellow, green, brown, purple and black. The most popular early use of pealware was the blue underglaze with oriental decoration, a pattern often referred to as ‘Chinese House’ which remained in fashion and in demand for over twenty years. The blue designs applied as underglaze meant that they were
protected from wear and damage and thus the sharpness of colour and image stands the test of time, which would explain its enduring popularity today.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Edwin and Mary Scheier

Edwin and Mary Scheier were ceramicists and they met and married in Virginia in 1937, forming a very successful partnership both personally and professionally. Both were artists in their own right; Mary having studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts as well as the Grand Central School of Art in Paris and Edwin having been a student of the New York School of Industrial Arts. However it was their ceramics that would eventually win them national acclaim and invitations to teach at the University of New Hampshire and this was essentially self-taught.

They were both talented and experimental and challenged boundaries and ideas within the art world, embracing the Modern Art movement of the mid-20th century, even digging up their own red clay for some of their pieces. Their partnership in ceramics saw Mary’s talent for wheel-thrown pots and Edwin’s flair for glazes and unusual design combine perfectly to produce outstanding results working both independently and collaboratively.

Edwin and Mary Scheier

Edwin and Mary Scheier

Mary became known for her elegant and thin-walled vessels, usually smaller pottery and often functional ware, while Edwin was known for the larger, sculptural and more experimental pieces. He was constantly trialing different glazes most noticeably in soft shades such as pinks, blues, greens and purples and the images were often simple incised, line drawings.

The themes of their work were largely based around primitive and biblical imagery. They were exploring human behavior from Adam and Eve, birth, temptation to protection, motherhood and coupling with some of the designs showing people within people, womb-like or within animals.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

The Martin Brothers

The Martin Brothers first pottery opened in 1873 located in Lambeth but by 1877 it had moved to Southall where it remained until it closed in 1915.

The Martin Brothers were four brothers lead by the eldest Robert Wallace. He took charge of most of the modelling, while Walter, having the most technical expertise took control of the kiln and the creation of coloured glazes and Edwin took on the role of decorator leaving eccentric youngest brother, Charles managing the shop.

The Martin Brothers produced what is now termed Victorian Art pottery and were part of the evolution of studio pottery production. Their eccentric, often grotesque designs are hugely popular with collectors today. They worked mainly in stoneware but did experiment with earthenware during the late 1800s. Collectors are often interested in one particular type of the Martin Brothers work, for example, their face jugs or musical imp figures and are attracted by the combination of highly skilled, yet comic and very often dark designs. The most desirable and well-known of their collections, however, is definitely their birds.

Robert Wallace was responsible for all the designs of the Gothic-inspired birds glazed in greens, greys, blues and browns. The earliest is dated 1880 and they are all designed around characters from Victorian London; political and public figures, professionals or general waifs and strays with the personality of the piece being a huge draw for collectors. These birds can realise thousands of pounds at auction, with rare examples far exceeding this.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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