Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Antique Art Deco ceramics

Bright colours and attractive white and cream glazes are the keynotes of Art Deco ceramics. Pottery and tableware took on bold geometric shapes with attractive hand-finished decoration. Brightly coloured glazes were popular in America. China figures were produced in great numbers: favourite subjects were modern women, naked or scantily dressed, sporting figures and animals.

In England the Doulton Lambeth potteries made small bone china figures that maintained a cautious balance between traditional crinolined lady and the modern woman. Figures by Phoebe Stabler, Richard Garbe and Gilbert Bayes are especially collectable. The Wedgewood range of vases, bowls, covered boxes and inkstands, many designed by the New Zealander Keith Murray, epitomize machine age geometry, enhanced by monochrome matt glazes of subdued green, grey-blue and ivory.

The greatest exponent of geometric wares was Clarice Cliff of the Newport pottery which belonged to Wilkinson & Co. of Staffordshire. She created a range of brightly enamelled straw-glazed pottery retailed under names such as "Bizarre" and "Fantastique". In Cliff's hands, coffee pots became tapering cylinders with pierced triangular bracket handles and sugar bowls were often upturned cone sections, supported by flange feet, that gave the appearance of a rocket base. Susie Cooper's designs, more subdued, are very popular. Her most collectable wares are those made in the 1930s.

The Shelley potteries produced elegant porcelain tea and coffee wares using geometric shapes and primary-coloured enamel decoration with silver lustre trim. Poole potteries  introduced their highly distinctive painted wares in near pastel colours against ivory reserves. Their stylish portrait plstes are highly prized by collectors.

Artist potters came into their own in this period. Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew, Shoji Hamada and William Staite Murray offered a finely crafted alternative to the mass-produced wares from Staffordshire. Most of their work is signed.

In Germany Art Deco ceramic wares found expression through large and established factories such as Meissen (especially the figures of Paul Scheurich), Rosenthal and Nymphenburg.

In Belgium the Boch Freres factory produced a range of wares with crackled white grounds overlaid with floral or bird designs in vivid enamel colours with incised outlines.

The French centre for mass-produced porcelain was Limoges, which employed several top designers including Marcel Goupy, Jean Luce and Suzanne Lalique. French artist potters catered for the discerning few. The most eminent were Jean Mayadon, Emile Decoeur and Emile Lenoble. Decoeur and Lenoble made sandstone pots covered with thick glazes, Lenoble often incising geometric designs. Incised decoration also featured in the work of Rene Buthaud. 

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