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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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The Story of Art Deco

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French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

Innovative Handmade Art Pottery
by Bob Brooke


Small art potteries led the British Arts & Crafts Movement, with a few influential ones promoting the simple, functional designs of William Morris. The pottery world became invigorated with the innovative work of artists such as William Moorcroft and William De Morgan, both known for the individuality and quality of their work.

De Morgan began by decorating mass-produced tiles but soon gave that up to make his own pottery. He had an obsession with irregularity and individuality, involving himself with every stage of the process. Larger potteries, such as Martin Brothers in Southall, England, divided the labor among members of a team in which each member specialized in one part of the production. Most Arts & Crafts ceramics studios followed this practice since it permitted craftsmen to develop their skills to a very high degree within a special role. They soon established art pottery studios in which designers could experiment freely with new techniques of potting, glazing, and decorating.

Potters re-interpreted traditional shapes, such as urns and ballusters, using individual craftsmanship. Other potters often used classical shapes in their original state as canvases to showcase a glaze or a finish. Bright colors, including flambé glazes and Pilkington’s lustrous “Lancastrian” wares, provided a stark contrast to the more subdued hues of Doulton and Martin Brothers pieces.

William De Morgan
William De Morgan was one of the most prolific and creative ceramic artists of the British Arts & Crafts Movement. A lifelong friend of William Morris, he joined the influential circle of artist/craftsman led by Morris and painter Edward Burne-Jones in the early 1860s.

DeMorgan designed ceramic tiles, stained glass, and furniture for Morris & Company from 1863 to 1872. He decorated his pottery with animal, plant, and grotesque designs. Galleons and fish were common motifs, as were fantastical birds and animals done in golds, ruby reds, vivid purple, green, and turquoise blue.

De Morgan began experimenting with pottery in 1863 and by 1872 had shifted to working in ceramics. He established his own pottery and showroom in the Chelsea district of London where he stayed until 1881. Around 1873 to 1874, he made a striking rediscovery of the secrets of luster ware found in Hispano-Moresque pottery and Italian majolica. But his interest in the East wasn’t limited to glazing techniques. It pervaded his concept of design and color. As early as 1875, he began to work in earnest using a “Persian” palette of dark blue, turquoise, manganese purple, green, Indian red, and lemon yellow. His study of the Isnik motifs of the 15th and 16th centuries influenced his style in which he employed fantastic creatures with geometric motifs that glide under luminous glazes. Decorators, such as Charles and Fred Passenger, Joe Juster, and Frank Iles carried out most of his designs.

De Morgan's decoration of pottery included chargers, rice dishes and vases. Although he produced some of these in his studio, he purchased many as biscuit wares from Wedgwood and others which his workers decorated. De Morgan’s decorators., including Charles Passenger, Fred Passenger, Joe Juster, and Miss Babb signed some of their pieces.

In 1907, De Morgan left the pottery. He had worked all his life trying to create beautiful things and once he had produced them, no one wanted them.

William Moorcroft
In 1897, James Macintyre & Company of the Washington Works in Burslem, employed 24-year-old William Moorcroft as a designer in its new art pottery division. Within a year, he became manager of the studio. Although the company produced mostly everyday wares, it wanted to develop a line of art pottery to keep up with the trends in the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Early in his employment at Macintyre's, William Moorcroft created designs for the company's Aurelian Ware range of high-Victorian pottery, which had transfer-printed and enameled decoration in bold red, blue and gold colors. Moorcroft developed highly lustered glazes and used oriental shapes and decorations. Some of his techniques were closely guarded trade secrets.

Moorcroft was a hands-on potter. From the outset, he embellished his earthenware pottery with stylized floral arrangements and landscapes painted in vivid shades of blue, yellow, and red. His first ware as “Aurelian,” which was transfer-printed and colored with red nd blue enamels highlighted with gilding.

He also designed the firm’s distinctive handmade “Florian” ware, which he decorated with formal patterns of brightly painted flower blossoms, foliage, and peacock feathers using heavy slip and a translucent glaze with produced brilliant color.. Organic forms and nature inspired him and his pattern names–“Poppies,” Liberty Daffodil,” and “Peacock” reflected that.

He transformed Macintyre’s techniques through his use of slip-trailing and a flowing style of decoration. His designs cover the surface of each piece. He added texture by employing a technique known as “tube-lining,” in which creamy, semi-liquid slip is piped in thin trails over the body of a vessel to create relief patterns that can be filled in with glazes. Morrcroft drew every pattern produced and designed many of the shapes. Florian ware became an instant hit, with leading retailers such as Liberty & Company stocking it.

He then developed his famous Florian Ware, with heavy slip and a translucent glaze which produces brilliance of color. Florian Ware was influenced by Art Nouveau. Artisans decorated each piece by hand, with the design outlined in trailed slip using a technique known as tubelining. Florian Ware was a great success and won Moorcroft a gold medal at the World's fair, the St. Louis International Exhibition in 1904. Unusually at that time, he adopted the practice of signing his name, or his initials, on nearly all the pottery he designed, the production of which he personally oversaw. In due course the extent to which his success had overshadowed Macintyre's other manufacturing activities resulted in resentment on the part of Moorcroft’s employers, culminating in their decision in 1912 to close down his studio.

In 1913, Moorcroft left Macintyre & Company to set up his own Cobridge Works in Burslem, backed financially by Liberty & Company, with a staff from Macintyre & Company. He developed designs such as “Pansy,” “Orchid,” “Leaf and Berry,” “Green Flamminian,” “Hazeldene,” and “Red Persian,” as well as a popular series of wares decorated with a combination of sumptuous glazes called “Flambe.” Moorcroft adopted the names “Claremont” for his toadstool pattern, after it was first used by Liberty & Company. The business succeeded. Much of the output was sold through Liberty & Co. and Tiffany in New York City.

In 1928, Queen Mary made him “Potter to the Queen,” which was stamped on the base of the pottery.

Doulton & Company
At the end of the 19th century, small art potteries dominated the British Arts & Crafts ceramics market. However, Doulton & Company, a large prolific and innovative ceramics firm, took advantage of opportunities to collaborate with Arts and Crafts designers by establishing an art pottery studio alongside their mass-produced lines.

John Doulton founded the company at Lambeth in South London, in 1815. He specialized in producing everyday stonewares. His son, Henry, established an art pottery studio in 1871 to produce handcrafted and hand-decorated ceramic wares. He produced a variety of decorated stonewares using earlier salt-glaze finishes and a line of hand-painted faience.

In 1860, Henry’s friend, John Sparkes, persuaded him to work with the students from the Lambert School of the Arts. nearby. What followed was a long and lucrative partnership that offered industrial training to the students in exchange for the ideas and designs that the students could develop.

The prospect of employment meant that many of the graduates not only went on to work for Doulton & Company. They were able to help shape the future of the Royal Doulton brand. What these students and graduates were able to create, were the polar opposite of what the Doulton & Co. had become known for. This deal eventually led to the production of chinaware and stoneware, collectively referred to as “Doulton Ware,” that’s popular with collectors today.

As the company became interested in diversifying from its utilitarian wares into more decorative objects, it developed a number of earthenware and stoneware bodies. The so-called "Lambeth faience" was "a somewhat heavily potted creamware much used in decorative plaques and vases", often with underglaze painting. Other bodies were called "Impasto" (1879); "Silicon" (1880), "a vitrified unglazed stoneware decorated with colored clays"; "Carrara" (1887), white earthenware, also used as architectural terracotta; "Marquetrie" (1887), "marbled clays in checker work," then glazed. "Chine" impressed with fabrics to texture the clay, these burned away in the kiln.

The first to Lambeth artist to be employed was George Tinworth followed by artists such as the Barlow family (Florence, Hannah, and Arthur), Frank Butler, Mark Marshall, Eliza Simmance and John Eyre. John Bennett was in charge of the "Lambeth faience" department until he emigrated to America in 1876, where he had success with his own pottery.

Most of the artists, who became notable themselves, focused on ornamental wares—vases, jugs, and tankards. Henry Doulton gave his designers free rein. Every piece was unique, since they were free to choose both the form and decoration. And each signed all the pieces they produced. Most of the glazes were in a somber, subdues palette of dark green, brown, blue, and grey although that didn’t prevent the decoration from being lively, spirited and inventive. The Lambeth student artists signed most of their pieces either with their initials or a monogram on the base. Until 1882, every piece of the company's art stoneware was a unique item. After that, the company made some pieces in batches to keep up with the demand.

Doulton’s artists used a technique known as sgraffito, an ancient method of pottery decoration achieved by scratching into the vessel’s slip with a sharp instrument before glazing to reveal the ceramic body underneath. Initially, Doulton had technical
difficulties in producing the "art" pieces. At first, workers fired them in the open kiln with other wares, but later, they used saggars.

Queen Victoria was so impressed with Doulton’s new wares that she knighted Henry Doulton for his services to the ceramic arts and the advancement of ceramics in 1887. And to this, she presented Doulton with a royal warrant, enabling the company to use the name Royal Doulton.

Christopher Dresser
Christopher Dresser influenced the decorative arts as much as William Morris. He set up his design studio in London in 1860. His design work encompassed ceramics, carpets, metalwork, including silver and electroplate, furniture, graphics, wallpaper, and textiles.

A visit to Japan from 1876 to 1877 influenced Dresser’s preference for form over ornamentation and confirmed his view that “fitness for purpose” was the basis of good design.

Dresser worked for a number of Staffordshire potteries looking to capitalize on the fashionable trend for art pottery. He began with Minton in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1870s. By 1879, he and entrepreneur John Harrison founded Linthrope Pottery near Middlesbrough. His inventive forms for Linthorpe wares, including gourd-shaped vases with multiple handles and “camel backed” jugs, were influenced by Japanese ceramics and Pre-Columbian wares. One of his favorite decorative techniques was to cover his pieces with poured or dripped glazes in a rich, lustrous dark brown highlighted with tones of green, blue-green, or yellow and coupled with stylized ornamental motifs. Dresser designed over 1,000 pots between 1879 and 1882.

Sunflower Pottery
Self-taught potter Henry Elton founded the Sunflower Pottery at his Clevedon Court estate in Somerset in 1879. He embraced the Arts & Crafts Movement, launching his handmade Elton Ware, influenced by Renaissance Italy, ancient Greece, China, and Japan. His pieces successfully married past cultures with imaginative ceramic shapes and innovative glazing technique.

Elton was noted for his vases, decorated in relief with flowering branches, as well as for his experiments with imaginative pottery forms which frequently had multiple handles or spouts He fashioned in bizarre shapes. He also developed innovative glazes. Elton often covered his vases, cups, and jugs with platinum, silver, copper, or streaky gold glazes or glazed them in several colors swirled together to create a marbling effect. He also sometimes used heavily enameled or incised decoration.

Elton began to experiment with luster glazes around 1902. After this, the Sunflower Pottery introduced a variety of metallic luster glazes over a heavily crackled surface. Although officially called the Sunflower Pottery, the pots are usually referred to as Elton Ware.

Della Robbia Pottery
Harold Rathbone and Conrad Dressler started the Della Robbia Pottery in 1894 in Birkenhead. Both began the pottery as a true Arts & Crafts studio, using local labor and materials. The pottery became known for its lustrous lead glazes and patterns of interweaving plants, heraldic and Islamic motifs. The firm mainly produced large vases, presentation wares, and plates, and ceramic clock cases and tiled window boxes.

Dressler was a sculptor, potter and also inventor of the continuous firing tunnel kiln. Giovanni Carlo Valentino Manzoni joined the pottery in early 1894, leaving to establish his own pottery, the Minerva Art Ware Manufacturers in Hanley in July 1895. Manzoni returned to the pottery in June 1898, staying until its closure in 1906.

Rathbone and Dressler took the name for their pottery from the famous family workshop founded by Luca della Robbia in 15th-century Florence, which specialized in large colored reliefs installed on walls. Some of the Birkenhead pieces imitated this style closely, while others drew from the more general style of Italian maiolica.

The pottery was established as a true Arts & Crafts pottery on the lines advocated by William Morris, using local labor and raw materials such as local red clay from Moreton, Wirral. The pottery, all earthenware, had lustrous lead glazes and often used patterns of interweaving plants, typical of Art Nouveau, with heraldic and Islamic motifs.

Dressler was mainly responsible for the decorative architectural panels, many of which can still be seen in the local area of Birkenhead and Liverpool, as well as in the local museums. The brightly colored panels, inspired by the work of the Florentine sculptor Luca della Robbia and his family, did not prove to be very popular on the dark brick buildings of the period, the pottery turning to large two-handled vases, presentation wares, wall chargers and plates, as well as ceramic clock cases, tiled window boxes, numerous types of vases and similar wares, as a source of income.

The pottery sold its wares through Liberty & Company, as well as in their own retail outlet in Liverpool.

The costs of making the Della Robbia products was greater than the prices that could be charged. Even with the introduction of the professional services of a thrower and kiln man, as well as the use of commercial glazes and raw materials, the pottery wasn’t a commercial success. In 1900 Marianne de Caluwé joined the pottery, injecting finance as well as bringing a new direction with her strong Art Nouveau influence.

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