Earthenware double-spouted vessel, by Christopher Dresser
Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, England, AD 1879-82
Inspired by ancient Nasca pottery
The Linthorpe Art Pottery was jointly established in 1879 by the industrial designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) and a Middlesbrough businessman called John Harrison, who owned a plot of land that was rich in red brick clay. Dresser served as artistic director at Linthorpe for three years, during which period the artist Henry Tooth was employed as pottery manager. This piece is marked with Christopher Dresser's facsimile signature and 'HT' for Henry Tooth. The idea was to produce good quality original art pottery at a modest affordable price.
Between 1879 and 1882 Dresser created a large body of diverse designs for the factory, many of which had forms derived from Far Eastern, Islamic, Peruvian or Fijian sources. He took much inspiration from the collections of The British Museum and sometimes his extraordinary shapes are direct copies of objects which he had seen here.
The shape of this vessel shows Dresser's interest in pre-Colombian ceramics, in particular a type of Peruvian double spout and bridge vessel of the Nasca culture (200 BC - AD 600). However, whereas Nasca vessels are usually painted with symbolic figures in coloured liquid clays, the Linthorpe piece is decorated with a streaky glaze. The main body of the pot is moulded with series of raised dots, which makes it resemble a sea urchin.
J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
W. Halén, Christopher Dresser (Oxford, 1990)
C. Hart, Linthorpe art pottery (Cleveland, Aisling Publications, 1988)
Diameter: 15.100 cm