- Museum number
Vase; earthenware, hand-thrown, bulging body painted with mermaids and foliate ornament in deep red lustre on a cream-coloured ground.
- Production date
- 1889 (designed;made)
Diameter: 22.70 centimetres
Height: 22.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. a catalogue of the British Museum collection'. no. 55.
Crane's first ceramic designs were made for Wedgwood cream-ware between 1867 and 1871. He then designed tiles for Maw & Company, together with his friend, Lewis F. Day, from the mid 1870s. Maw & Co. was one of the first firms to produce lustrewares under industrial conditions; they exhibited lustre pottery by Lewis F. Day at the first exhibition of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society at the New Gallery, Regent Street, London, (Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, Catalogue of the First Exhibition, 1888,161, no. 382). Two years later they exhibited a 'case containing vases in lustre ware', designed by Walter Crane and executed by 'Childe, Jones, Rutter and Brown' (Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, Catalogue of the Third Exhibition, 1890, 210, no. 416). These were almost certainly the series of seven pots illustrated in 'The Art Journal'.Easter Annual, 1898, 31 (the same illustration is reproduced in A.W. Coysh, 'British Art Pottery', London 1976, pl. 51). The Art Journal special number is accompanied by Crane's own account, in which he records that he gave sectional drawings to the thrower and then painted the design on a biscuit pot as a model. This was afterwards copied on duplicate vases in ruby lustre (presumably by the four factory artists listed in the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society catalogue). Crane discusses the Maw pots immediately after his description of a series of tiles designed for the Paris Exhibition of 1889 and also made by Maw & Company, suggesting that the pots may have been designed in that year. They all have bulging forms with decoration in red lustre and cream.
The series continued in production for some years. In 1902 Crane organised the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society's display at the Turin Exhibition of that year and he included the Maw pots although they were no longer new work (Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration xi, 1902-3, 235). The 'swan' vase is the best known of the series and examples are to be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum (illustrated in I. Spencer, 'Walter Crane', London 1975, 112) and in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (formerly Handley-Read collection; see London, Royal Academy, 'Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Art. The Handley-Read Collection', 1972, G25). The V & A also holds an example of the 'mermaid'
vase (Circ. 312.1953, given by Maw & Co.; see London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 'Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Arts', 1952, M53); the lustre is a bright orange-red and the vase is painted on the base with the factory name and date '1901'. The orange lustre was probably not intentional, but the lustre tones vary considerably between different pieces; the deep ruby lustre of the British Museum vase has not fired successfully: there are murky patches and pitted surface areas.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number