John Slater was born in Derby in 1844 and trained at the Stoke-on-Trent School of
Design. He was an apprentice at Minton Ltd training as a painter under Joseph-Francois-Leon
Arnoux. A talented painter, he succeeded his brother Albert Slater as the art director
of Pinder, Bourne & Co. at Nile St, Burslem. He continued as art director of Doulton
& Co. Burslem from 1887 and was largely responsible for attracting and developing
the large group of artist-decorators on which the reputation of the Doulton earthenware
and bone china was built.
Slater’s talents were not limited to painting and he was involved in the development
of ‘rouge flambe’ and many of the other special glazes used on Doulton’s ornamental
ware in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Slater was also responsible for the
development of a unique parian body, and for various patents for processes concerned
with transfer printing from photographic plates onto ceramics .
During his time at Nile St, Slater built up a large collection of Doulton’s ornamental
wares (both Lambeth and Burslem ware). In 1919 this collection was sold to Doulton’s
long-time Australian agent John Shorter, and the collection is now housed in the
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
Slater died in 1914 and was succeeded as art director at Nile St by his long-time
associate Charles Noke.
Charles John Noke was born at Worcester in 1858 and as a child grew up surrounded
by the fine porcelain figures collected by his antique-dealer/collector father and
developed an early interest in ceramic sculpture. As a child he was familiar with
the work of the gifted Worcester modeller James Hadley, and at 16 he became an apprentice
at the Royal Worcester Porcelain factory and attended the Worcester School of Design.
After 16 years working at Worcester, Noke joined John Slater at Nile St in 1889 as
the chief designer and modeller. His initial work was the modelling and decoration
of large vases displayed at the various International exhibitions of the time. By
1894 he was modelling figures in a parian china with a matt ivory ‘vellum’ glaze.
Many of these models were later (post-1913) re-issued in porcelain.
Although not a glaze chemist, Noke was involved with Slater, Cuthbert Bailey, Bernard
Moore and others in the development of the ‘rouge flambe’ glaze in the early 1900s,
and subsequently with the special glazes used on the rarely seen ‘Chang’ and ‘Sung’
Noke was instrumental in the introduction of Doulton’s Kingsware from 1898, Series
Ware depicting characters from legend, literature, history and song from about 1906,
the Doulton porcelain figurines from 1913, and the earthenware character jugs from
Noke succeeded John Slater as the art director at Nile St in 1914 and retired from
the position in 1936 at the age of 78 - although he continued to work in his studio
until his death in 1941. He was succeeded as art director by his son Cecil Jack Noke.
Son of Charles Noke, Cecil Jack Noke joined Doulton in about 1920 following service
in the Army during the First World War. He studied at the Stoke and Burslem Schools
of Art and trained at Nile St under the noted decorators Leonard Bentley and Robert
Allen. Although not a modeller in the tradition of his father, he was a talented
designer with a special interest in etching and engraving and was responsible for
many of the notable Doulton tableware designs of the 1930s. He succeeded his father
as art director in 1936 and died, unexpectedly, in 1954.