Fit for Royalty
Royal Doulton in Rago’s August Unreserved Auctions
22 August 2017
Founded in 1815 by John Doulton in Lambeth, London, the Royal Doulton Company rose to international acclaim thanks to their innovations and advancements in firing and glazing techniques.
Originally producers of stoneware bottles and jars, the company wisely anticipated the sanitation improvements of the Industrial Revolution and began producing stoneware drainpipes for London’s modern sewer system. Though it may seem an unromantic start for one of the world leaders in ceramic art, many of these sewer and water pipes are still in use today, a testament to their enduring quality.
In the 1870s, John’s son Henry Doulton opened a studio at the Lambeth pottery, paving way for the company to pursue more creative endeavors. Employing students from the nearby Lambeth School of Art, Doulton developed artistic ceramic wares which were exhibited internationally to critical acclaim. At the Paris Exhibition of 1878, Henry Doulton earned the Grand Prix, the highest honor ever awarded to a potter, securing the company’s position as a major player in the revitalization of English pottery. Soon, other pottery studios were developing their own art departments, contributing to the overall prestige of English pottery worldwide.
Royal Doulton allowed their studio artists the freedom to experiment and develop their own techniques. It was within this environment that artists such as George Tinworth and Charles Noke flourished. Charles Noke, who joined Doulton in 1889, served as Art Director for the company from 1914 to 1936, initiating a revolution in both design and production. He is celebrated for developing several ranges of transmutation glazed wares (such as Flambé, Sung and Kingsware) and encouraging the expansion of studio pottery among British manufacturers. He also contributed to the character studies for some of Royal Doulton’s most famous figurines.
Designed by Charles Noke and decorated by F. Allen in the early 20th century, Lot 1002 is an exceptional example of the skill involved in crafting a piece of Sung Flambé ware. The vessel glows a deep red wine color, handsomely under painted with a bird in flight, surrounded by abstract foliage rising up from the bottom of the vessel. The bottom of the vase is signed by both artists.
With four masterfully glazed vessels, Lot 1009 provides a perfect opportunity to appreciate the intricacies of Royal Doulton Flambé wear. The swirling glaze wraps around each piece like tendrils of fire, providing both color and texture.
This glazed ceramic Lambeth whiskey barrel, from the late 19th/early 20th century, is classic Royal Doulton. This piece would have been the beautiful centerpiece of a local saloon, and would be just as perfect in a bar today. The utility of this piece has endured a lifetime.
Lot 1276 features eight Kingsware whisky decanters with figural decoration: mostly made for Dewar’s scotch whiskey. Utilitarian, commercial and collectible - the appeal of these early 20th century vessels is timeless.