Sunday, 15 September 2013

J Blair - Art Pottery Figures

I need some help !! with these recent purchases.

The one above is an endearing little art pottery figure of a crying girl with her dog and the one below is peasant girl sitting amongst the grass and toadstools.

They are both hollow cast earthenware pottery with the modelling competently executed, rather than good. However, the decoration and glazing are basic with colours and glazes trying to recreate the naive nature of early Staffordshire figures. The sensitive nature of the subjects suggest to me that the artist was most likely to be a lady and someone trained as artist sculptor rather than a potter. Luckily the girl and her dog is signed, with an incised name in the underside. -- "J Blair" if I am reading it correctly.

But who is J.Blair ??

This isn't a name that I have encountered before and might just be a one amateur production, even a student creation. However, the fact that they as hollow cast suggest to me a more commercial production as a mould would have been made and probably a series of figures cast. But by who?

My trusty "The Dictionary of British Artists, 1880-1940" provides us with John Blair (1850-1934) and Janet Blair (exh 1899-1913) as the only two likely candidates. John from Edinburgh, exhibited 109 works including 83 at the Royal Scottish Academy whilst Janet from Glasgow, exhibited only 6 works, 1 at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Art and 5 at the Walker Gallery.

Mak'Merry jugJohn Blair (1850-1934), born at Hutton, near Berwick upon Tweed and based in Edinburgh. He mainly worked in watercolour, painting landscapes views of Scottish towns and villages on the east coast, including Edinburgh and the Borders. So probably not our artist.

Another thought was a connection with Catherine Blair, the inspiration behind the Scottish Women's Rural Institute and it's pottery painting co-operative studio Mak'Merry.  See the example here, which is typical of the wares, doesn't have the same feel. So perhaps no connection at all !!

So Janet Blair remains a possibility, but not a certain attribution - do you know anything or fancy a bit of research - any comments welcome.

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