Friday, 10 February 2012

Godwin, Dresser & Brownfields

The question in full - Is there a connection between the designers Dr Christopher Dresser (1834-1904), Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) and the pottery firm of William Brownfield ?

Possibly ? Probably or Maybe ?

The reason I have asked myself this question was prompted by the purchase of the little milk jug pictured here.

Although unmarked, I know that this was made by Brownfield's as I have owned marked examples in the past and if I recall correctly the pattern is illustrated in Tim Peake's book on the subject William Brownfield and Son(s): Illustrated Guide to Brownfield Wares, 1837-1900.

This style of design is typical of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870-80 period and are often attributed to designers like Dr Christopher Dresser or E W Godwin.

There are several versions of the pattern, some like this blue version are transfer applied on to china/porcelain whilst there is a similar coloured version seen on earthenware pottery. The pattern probably had a name as well as a pattern number, but I have been unable to trace any reference to it.

But where is the evidence ? or have these been attributed to Dr Chr Dresser, solely on the strength of design and similarities to documented patterns.

There are several other Brownfield's designs that I have encounter that have a similar design ethic. These include a design of flying cranes call "Yeddo" and another with a stylised bird called "Olympus".

Of these two, Olympus has a stronger feel of a Dresser influence, with a stronger element of stylisation, especially in the floral or foliate elements. The spikey flowers and leaves are similar to patterns seem in Dresser's "Principals of Decorative Design" 1873 or on patterns designed for Mintons.

The other named pattern encountered, "Yeddo" is usually seen on flat sided ovoid jugs, usually made from green coloured pottery and with moulded factory marks, pattern name and registered design diamond. The fact that this designed was registered to protect against copying could suggest it was an exclusive design and not a generic version of an in vogue style.

The "Yeddo" design is usually fully attributed to Christopher Dresser, there are numerous auction catalogue confirming this attribution. However, this might not be correct, there is another suggestion that it is more likely to be by E W Godwin, whose design influences are similar. A similar pattern is seen on porcelain tea and dinner ware.

There is no documentary evidence of any connection between these designers and Brownfield's and no "signed" examples have been seen. However, in the book Christopher Dresser, the author Harry Lyons, refers to the Godwin archive in the V&A collection in which Godwin notes in a diary, contacts with Brownfield in 1876.

Whoever designed these were talented designers, with the designs right up to date, cut edge even. Perhaps they were designed by Brownfield's own in house art director - will we ever know.

............ and these are a few other Brownfield designs. In house ?? perhaps not.

and few book on the subject, so you can continue you research.

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