Histories of UK potters and pottery manufacturers

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© Michael Perry 2011. Contact

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Last updated: 1st August 2011

DOULTON (BURSLEM) ARTISTS

The artists and decorators assembled by John Slater and his successors at Burslem from the 1880s onward matched in skill those of Worcester and Derby. Of particular importance were:

Robert Allen

Herbert Betteley

Percy Curnock

Harry Nixon

A list of the principal Doulton Burslem artists/decorators can be found here: Burslem artists/decorators.

Robert Allen (b. 1858, d 1934)

Robert Allen, was a an important decorative artist, and then pattern designer for Royal Doulton in the early 20th century. He joined Doulton as an apprentice painter in about 1870, quickly becoming one of Doulton’s most adept and valuable decorators. Following the death of John Slater in 1914 he established his own design studio within the Nile St. factory; and here he produced literally thousands of patterns for the factory’s tableware.

Robert Allen’s designs can be identified by the special ‘Ra’ pattern numbers hand-written on the base of the ware -  and these can be used to identify the year the pattern was produced.

Allen retired in about 1929 and died in 1934 at the age of 76.

The following obituary, taken in full from the Potteries Gazette and Glass Trades Review, Vol. 59, page 1207 (1934) records Allen’s talents and his career with Doulton:

We regret to record the death of Mr. Robert Allen, distinguished ceramic artist who was formerly in the employ of the Royal Doulton Potteries at Burslem, from which position he retired about five years ago, after well over fifty years’ service with that firm.

Mr. Robert Allen will long be remembered as a talented pottery artist. In early boyhood, electing to pursue art as a career, he attended the old Wedgwood Institute at Burslem, receiving his early art instruction under the guidance of Mr. Geo. Theaker. When quite a boy he entered the Royal Doulton Potteries as an apprentice, and was speedily picked out by the late Mr. John Slater, the then art director at the Nile-st. Works, as a promising artist. He received special facilities to develop his talents and subsequently became Mr. Slater’s right-hand man.

Mr. Allen was responsible for many successes as a ceramic artist, and one recalls his fine work in connection with many of the marvellous pieces which brought fame, as well as many diplomas, to the Doulton organisation at the Chicago and St. Louis Exhibitions, as well as Paris in 1900, and Turin and Brussles. He was versatile with the pencil and brush; an adept at design and, withal, a skilful executant in general.

No wonder that he was asked, following the death of the late Mr. Slater, to continue as head of the principal decorating department, a position from which he was subsequently relieved in order that he might thenceforth devote the whole of his attention to design.

One can recall the names and personalities of many talented pottery artists of the late nineteenth and  twentieth centuries, and amongst these Robert Allen will assuredly retain an abiding place. He poured out his soul in the interests of pottery decoration, and his works have secured notable recognition in all parts of the world. Anyone who is fortunate enough to possess a signed piece of ‘Royal Doulton; ware decorated by Allen will know how to appraise it, one feels sure.

Mr Allen was a capable water-colour painter, and this was one of his chief hobbies. Seascapes and bird subjects interested him chiefly, and his holidays were often planned to that end-a busman’s holiday some might choose to call them; but they resulted in the creation of many fine works, which have graced the walls of some noteworthy exhibitions.

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Herbert Betteley

Herbert Betteley was born in 1860 and joined Doulton in 1886 at the age of 26 after study at the Burslem School of Art. Initially an artist he was responsible for decorating many of the ornamental ware exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition) of 1893. Later, he designed patterns for Doulton and ware bearing pattern numbers prefixed by ‘HB’ or ‘BB’ (in addition to the normal Doulton backstamp) are presumably the work of Betteley. His speciality was the painting of intricate gold patterns on ornamental ware. He remained associated with the Nile St factory until 1930.

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Percy Curnock

Percy Curnock was probably Doulton’s longest serving artist, entering the factory in 1885 and only retiring in 1954. He specialised in floral painting (especially roses), and landscapes.

Curnock’ signature is seen on some tableware, for example on the popular ‘Glamis Thistle’ pattern  V xxxx, although the pattern is applied as a colour lithograph rather than an original ceramic painting.   

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Harry Nixon

Harry Nixon (b. 1886, d. 1955) joined Doulton in about 1900 as a general artist. He was closely associated with Charles Noke in the decoration of flambe ware and the Chang and Sung art ware of the early 1900s. Nixon is best know as the man responsible for figurine painting at Nile St and the ‘HN’ series numbers on figurines (HN 1 ‘Darling’ introduced in 1913) recognise his role in their production.

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Other Doulton (Burslem) artists

Surname

First name

Service

Speciality

Allen

Harry

1899–1950

Birds, florals, landscapes

Allen

Robert

1870-1929

Artist, responsible for decorating much of the Burslem ornamental ware exhibited by Doulton  at the great exhibition of the 1890s. Later an important pattern designer and the originator of the ‘Ra’ numbered patterns.

Bailey

Arthur

1912–1955

Slip and underglaze painter

Bentley

Leonard

1889–1926

Florals

Betteley

Herbert

1886–1930

Artist and designer, specialised in intricate gold patterns. Later a designer and the originator of ‘HB’ labelled patterns.

Bilton

Louis

1892–c. 1911

Florals (esp Australian)

Birbeck

Joseph

1900–1926

Fish, game-birds, landscapes

Birks

Edward

1881–1890

Florals

Bott

Thomas

1889–1900

Florals

Boulton

James

1880–1917

Florals

Brough

Charles

1903–1911

Florals, game-birds

Brown

Reginald

1925–1962

Florals, landscapes, figurines (post c. 1930)

Brown

Wilmot

1879–1930

Landscapes, flambe

Buttle

George

1905–1911

Figures

Curnock

Percy

1885–1954

Florals (speciality: Roses), landscapes

Dewsbury

David

1889–1919

David Dewsbury joined Doulton after working at the Hill Pottery, Burslem. He specialised in floral studies and is acknowledged as a master painter of orchids. His finest work appears on cabinet plates and ornamental vases.

Eaton

Arthur

1889–1932

 

Evans

George

1929–1931

Landscapes

Grace

William

1902–1960

Underglaze painter

Hall

Sydney

1891–1952

Florals, landscapes, fish, game-birds

Hancock

Joseph

1890–1945

Fish, game-birds, landscapes

Hancock

Frederick

1879–1913

Florals, fish, game-birds, landscapes

Harper

Frank

1925–1928

Florals, fruit

Hart

Charles

1880–1927

Florals, fish, game-birds

Hewitt

John

1885–1893

Figure painter on vases etc

Hodkinson

William

1880–1920

Painter and gilder who trained at Mintons and joined Doulton at the age of 20. A skilled landscape painter, he collaborated with Charles Noke on Holbein Ware and the decoration of flambe ware.

Hopkins

Charles

1895–1922

Landscapes

Johnson

Reginald

1923–1930

Landscapes. Reginald Johnson joined Doulton at the age of fourteen in 1923 and studied under Charles Noke.

Johnson

Leslie

1905–1937

Figure painter on vases etc

Keates

Norman

1907–1961

Florals, landscapes

Kitteridge

J.

1890s–

Florals

Labarre

Charles

1893–1894

Painter of vases for the Chicago Exhibition

Mitchell

Henry

1893–1908

A gifted painter of animals, Mitchell established his reputation at Mintons and other companies before joining Doulton. He also specialised in landscapes and hunting scenes.

Moore

Frederick

1927–1957

Slip painter and flambé

Morrey

Harry

1884–1944

Landscapes, Holbein Ware

Mountford

Harry

1890s–

Florals

Nixon

Harry

1900–1950

Florals, also flambé, Sung and Chang

Parry

Edward

1887–1893

Florals

Perry

Arthur

1926–1947

Fish, game-birds, landscapes

Phillips

Thomas

1888–1930

Florals

Piper

Harry

1892–1914

Heraldic emblems

Plant

John

1902–1917

Joined Doulton after working at Coalport and Wedgwood. Plant specialised in English landscapes featuring castles, cathedrals and other historic buildings.

Price

John

1894–1932

Florals, general painting

Proudlove

Albert

1890s

 

Raby

Edward

1892–1914

Florals

Roden

Jack

1904–1955

Underglaze painter

Scott

Arthur

1896–1906

Florals (speciality: Roses)

Slater

Walter

1880–1910

Florals

Sutton

Fred

1904–1913

Painter of figures and miniatures

Taylor

Harry

1897–1900

Florals, fruit, crustacean

Theaker

Harry

1893–1900

Figure painter esp classical subjects

Tittensor

Harry

1900–1925

Landscapes, figure painting, Art Ware

Walklate

Frederick

1888–1927

Florals, landscapes

Webster

Eric

1910–1963

Florals, landscapes, birds

White

George

1885–1912

Specialist figure painter on vases, services etc. He painted many figures from classical mythology and was associated with Charles Noke in the decoration of Luscian Ware.

Wilson

Samuel

1880–1909

Samuel Wilson specialised in portraying scenes from rural Britain and his paintings often contain cattle, sheep, wild deer, or hunting scenes. Fish, game-birds and landscapes were other subjects.

Wood

Edwin

1898–1938

Florals

Yeomans

Charles

1883–1951

Landscapes, flambé ware

Notes

  1. The list above is based on that given by Eyles, D. (1965). Royal Doulton 1815-1865 – The Rise and Expansion of the Royal Doulton Potteries. Hutchinson of London.
  2. Service within the range of dates given may not be continuous.
  3. Special commissions were signed by the individual artist. Signatures are also found on some transfer printed tableware, for example that of Percy Curnock, however, these identify the painter of the original work and do not imply that the ware was hand-painted.

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©Michael Perry 2011