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About Nic Saintey
Nic Saintey is a director and a specialist in ceramics. His effervescent nature and wide experience has seen him regularly appear as an expert on the BBC's Bargain Hunt and Flog It programmes
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The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

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Review Entries for Day Friday, December 13, 2013

Once one becomes immersed in such an interesting collection as that formed by Richard Harry Rhead-Cronin it does rather start to take over your life. Every new discovery is a reward, sometimes earned through effort at one’s desk and often as not falling into your lap whilst you have a mug of tea in one hand and a biscuit in the other! One can get quite familiar with the Rhead family and nonchalantly say – ah yes that’s the work of Frederick.

 a pate sur pate plaque attributed to frederick alfred rhead

A pate sur pate plaque attributed to Frederick Alfred Rhead (FS21)

When looking at the unsigned oval pate sur pate plaque illustrated above an attribution to Frederick Alfred Rhead seems like a safe bet as it bears all the hall marks of someone who served his apprenticeship with Louis Solon at Minton.

 scimitar a pate sur pate plaque worked by lois witcomb rhead in 1923

Scimitar a pate sur pate plaque worked by Lois Witcomb Rhead in 1923 (FS21)

It might follow then that the circular pate sur pate plaque is also his work however on the reverse it bears a paper label stating that it was part of the 33rd Exhibition of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors in New York – so it seems the wrong guy and wrong country!

 label for pate sur pate plaque exhibited by lois rhead in the 33rd national exhibition of women painters and sculptors, new york

Label for pate sur pate plaque exhibited by Lois Rhead in the 33rd National Exhibition of Women Painters and Sculptors, New York (FS21)

It is however the work of Lois Whitcomb Rhead the second wife of Frederick Hurten Rhead and a pupil of Leon Solon (Louis Solon’s son). It all seems rather cosy, but would certainly account for the similarities between the plaques. The date and address seem to suggest it was when Frederick Hurten Rhead was working for the American Encaustic Tile Company.

 photograph of adolphine (dollie) rhead in her nurses uniform

Photograph of Adolphine (Dollie) Rhead in her nurse's uniform

My favourite discovery of the day has been a photograph, all rather unconnected except that it is another woman artist (albeit retired) and another Rhead. I couldn’t resist posting an image of Adolphine (Dollie) Rhead in her nurses’ uniform presumably whilst she was at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, circa 1915, I guess, she certainly has the family nose, don’t you think?

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Friday, December 13, 2013 8:21:24 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How many times as a ceramics auctioneer have I seen a rare pot only to turn it over and with a long sigh say ‘Ah if only it wasn’t damaged’. The cynics amongst you probably believe it is a turn of phrase used to diminish expectation at auction when faced with some small fault; I can assure you it’s not.

A second series Urbato Ware vase for Wileman & Co (EX81)

People who work with pots tend to be passionate about them so whilst working on the Rhead Cronin Collection I have been genuinely saddened when I have come across a flawed pot. However, at least one is comforted that these casualties can still tell a story as despite being imperfect they were retained by the owner.

 a wedgwood pate sur pate decorated vase, is this by a young frederick rhead

A Wedgwood pate sur pate decorated vase, is this by a young Frederick Rhead (EX81)

When faced with the Urbato Ware moon flask, designed by Frederick Rhead whilst at Wileman & Co, the desire to retain it is understandable, as although cracked it does ‘look’ perfect. There is also a Wedgwood vase painfully minus its neck, ‘Ah if only…’, that has pate sur pate panels on blue alternating with olive ground panels with stylised foliage. It raises the possibility that, although unsigned, this was made by Frederick circa 1877-87, why else would the family wish to retain it?

 a naturalistic woods elers ware vase by frederick rhead

A naturalistic Woods Elers Ware vase by Frederick Rhead (EX81)

Next there is another flawed piece of Elers Ware, a Wood & Sons range, undoubtedly the work of Frederick Rhead. Traditionally Elers Ware pieces have been more Art Nouveau and spartan in their handling whilst this small vase has a far more busy and naturalistic scheme. Has anyone seen this style of decoration on Elers Ware before?

 a marked woods & sons formosa pattern vase and an unmarked pate sur pate vase

A marked Woods & Sons Formosa pattern vase and an unmarked pate sur pate vase (EX81)

However, what intrigues me the most is a critically damaged and unmarked vase. The shape obviously Woods & Sons and cannot be anything other than the work of Frederick Rhead. Shortly after starting with them he was engaged to improve their range of fancy wares, hence the emergence of the Elers and Trellis patterns, but his decorative urges led him to experiment with pate sur pate ‘at prices well within reach of the average man’ to quote Bernard Bumpus.

 detail of the lobster pattern vase for woods by frederick rhead

Detail of the lobster pattern vase for Woods by Frederick Rhead (EX81)

The early pate sur pate was really just tubelining in disguise, but looking at this vase he did use the pate sur pate technique and by the look of these rather sumptuous lobsters rather successfully too. I guess that it never really went into full production as it was too labour intensive and costly. Other examples do exist as in recent conversation with Peter Mason it seems he may have unearthed evidence of another example.

 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013 10:40:19 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Wednesday, December 04, 2013

It is always satisfying when one can add to the sum total of knowledge about a particular subject it makes the job all the more rewarding. So it is pleasing that the Rhead Cronin Collection has provided some physical confirmation that Adolphine (Dollie) Rhead covered for her sister Charlotte Rhead at Burgess & Leigh when she went on holiday in 1928 to visit her brothers, Frederick Hurten Rhead and Louis Rhead, in America.

dollie rhead's signature on a burleigh ware sandwich set

Dollie Rhead's signature on a Burleigh Ware sandwich set (EX81)

It was always known that Dollie Rhead stood in for her sister, but if I’m correct, the image below is the first time a signed and dated piece from this period has been seen. What makes this discovery even more exciting is that the pattern has not been previously recorded and rather raises the question that Dollie ‘may’ actually have designed pieces rather than being solely a hired hand. Furthermore, the tubelining is proficiently undertaken which, when you bear in mind that she had left the potteries to pursue a career in nursing some eighteen years earlier, is no mean feat. For those of you that are interested a more in depth discussion of the piece then go to the blog at www.rheadpottery.com

 a burleigh ware sandwich set in a previously unrecorded pattern

A Burleigh Ware sandwich set in a previously unrecorded pattern (EX81)

The collection also contains a number of other previously unseen painted patterns which includes a rather curious bowl and matching plate with an Isnik inspired design of tulips and stylised leaves in black on a turquoise ground. Although marked enigmatically ‘E Fired’ to the underside of the plate it is almost certainly the work of Frederick Alfred Rhead for Bursley Ltd, as he is attributed with other patterns in the same idiom namely Bagdad, Benares and Arabian. One can only guess that these pieces never got past the prototype stage.

 is this a rejected frederick alfred rhead pottery prototype for bursley ltd?

Is this a rejected Frederick Alfred Rhead pottery prototype for Bursley Ltd? (EX81)

There is, however, no doubt that the following plate is by Frederick Alfred Rhead, as it bears his initials to the underside, and looks to be a direct copy of an Isnik pottery plate painted with typical saz leaf, stylised blooms and pomegranate within a wave scroll border. Whilst I don’t believe this was intended as a prototype several elements of it (the saz leaves, the leafy fronds at the base, the pink florets and the border scheme) appear in the Burgess & Leigh Persian pattern 4013.

a direct copy of an isnik dish painted by frederick alfred rhead used as inspiration for other pieces.

A direct copy of an Isnik dish painted by Frederick Alfred Rhead used as
inspiration for other pieces. (FS21)

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013 11:29:44 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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Review Entries for Day Monday, December 02, 2013

Original studies, sketches or notes that predate a finished work can often add colour and depth to an object or artwork. It can also provide a privileged insight into the creator’s thoughts. The Rhead Cronin Collection does allow such insight, but unusually it is into a whole family who it seems were particularly close.

 tennyson's idylls of the king and a signed charlotte rhead plaque

 Tennyson's Idylls of the King and a signed Charlotte Rhead plaque (FS21)

Certainly at one time, four of it’s members Frederick Alfred Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Charlotte Rhead and Dollie Rhead were all working under one roof for Wileman & Co and there are many times when two family members were working for the same company at the same time. Hardly surprising then to see the family both worked together and borrowed ideas and inspiration from each other. Three of the Rhead brothers George, Louis and Frederick provided the illustrations for an 1898 edition of Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and the former pair also illustrated a version of Tennyson’ Idylls of the King in the same year. As you can see from the attached image, Charlotte in turn used one of the engravings of Elaine with the shield of Lancelot as inspiration for a tubelined pottery plaque of her own.

 a signed and dated charlotte rhead plaque and the source watercolour

A signed and dated Charlotte Rhead plaque and the source watercolour (FS21)

What is more intriguing is the watercolour of a bungalow, which with some artistic licence, has been used by Charlotte Rhead for another plaque, which she has signed and dated 1910 on the reverse. It raises a number of questions, was it family home and perhaps given as a gift? It may have been a commission but that seems unlikely.

 a charlotte rhead plaque tubelined with a baby

A Charlotte Rhead plaque tubelined with a baby (FS21)

The same questions could also be asked of the sensitively rendered portrait of a baby tubelined by Charlotte onto another plaque. It has all the look of a family photograph although I can’t get the ridiculous thought out of my head of Charlotte bag in one hand and blank tile in the other ‘tubelining from life’ She was certainly known to have used her pets as inspiration so I really believe that this infant must be related to her.

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Monday, December 02, 2013 9:06:03 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
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