James Macintyre & Co.

From Industrial Ceramics to Art Pottery

In 1843, William Saddler Kennedy established a pottery at Washington Works in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. James Macintyre partnered with his brother-in-law Kennedy in 1854 and the firm was renamed Kennedy & Macintyre. Starting in 1860, Kennedy left the business, which operated subsequently as James Macintyre & Co. For the first fifty years of its existence, the company focused on making architectural elements, electrical porcelain, and industrial fittings. Around 1894, James Macintyre & Co. released its first art pottery wares, Washington Faience, by a designer named Wildig. This was followed by the Gesso Faience line, conceived by former Doulton's employee Harry Barnard.

In 1897, a young designer named William Moorcroft joined James Macintyre & Co. and began working on Aurelian Ware, which was a line of Victorian-style transfer pottery in bold colors. Within a year, Moorcroft was put in charge of the firm's entire art pottery studio. His Art Nouveau-influenced Florian Ware, with elaborate floral patterns in a soft palette, quickly brought attention to James Macintyre & Co. At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, William Moorcroft's Florian Ware was widely celebrated and led the designer to outshine his employer. Eventually, this dynamic proved untenable and James Macintyre & Co. closed its art pottery division altogether in 1912. Moorcroft went on to found his own pottery the following year and it would become very successful.

Starting in 1913, James Macintyre & Co. shifted primarily to the production of electrical insulators. From 1928 forward, the company only manufactured industrial porcelain for electrical insulation projects. In 1966, James Macintyre & Co. merged with T. Arrowsmith & Sons, but the two businesses maintained their names for marketing purposes.


Potter to the Queen

In 1928, Queen Mary issued a Royal Warrant naming William Moorcroft "Potter to the Queen." Beloved by royalty and the general public alike, Moorcroft Pottery was fashioned in a variety of styles and colors during the early 20th century. The current Moorcroft auction includes a wide array of attractive examples that showcase the skill and artistry of this venerable English maker.

William Moorcroft joined James Macintyre & Co. in 1897 and produced his first Florian Ware designs later that year. After becoming head of the company's art pottery division in 1898, Moorcroft continued to expand the Florian Ware line, which features flowers like poppies, irises, and tulips rendered with heavy slip and translucent glazes. Florian Ware created quite a stir at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, making William Moorcroft an instant celebrity in the ceramics world.

The Hazledene line originated prior to William Moorcroft being let go by James Macintyre & Co., but most examples date from the early years of Moorcroft Pottery, founded in 1913, through the 1920s when landscape pottery was very much in vogue. While Hazledene and Florian Ware have similar color palettes, all scenic elements in Hazledene are done in a rich blue-green set against a yellowish cream ground. Retailed at Liberty & Co. in London, Hazledene is characterized by an elegant, ordered presentation of nature.

William Moorcroft for James Macintyre & Co., Florian Ware vases with violets, pair
Lot 112: William Moorcroft for James Macintyre & Co.
Florian Ware vases with violets, pair
Moorcroft Pottery, Hazledene landscape vase
Lot 117: Moorcroft Pottery
Hazledene landscape vase

William Moorcroft's Claremont line debuted just after the St. Louis World's Fair and immediately appealed to art pottery enthusiasts. The ground for Claremont ranges in hue from indigo to olive to mustard. The most common decoration for this type of Moorcroft is toadstools or mushrooms, often painted in crimson and/or pale yellow. In some cases, toadstools are placed in landscapes with trees and floral motifs. Although Moorcroft continued to make Claremont well into 1920s, the most prized examples are early and rare forms from 1905 or 1906.

William Moorcroft for James Macintyre & Co., Rare three-piece Claremont coffee set with toadstools and overlay
Lot 105: William Moorcroft for James Macintyre & Co.
Rare three-piece Claremont coffee set with toadstools and overlay

In the late 1910s, Moorcroft unveiled its Moonlit Blue line, which boasts a deep blue ground adorned with stylized trees featuring rounded branches in light blue and green with gold accents. Although somewhat reminiscent of Hazledene, Moonlit Blue is clearly influenced by Art Nouveau and renders the natural world in an extravagant, dreamlike manner.

The Eventide line began not long after Moonlit Blue and they are quite similar, as both present exaggerated, Art Nouveau trees foregrounded in rural landscapes. In contrast to the cool tones of Moonlit Blue, Eventide suggests sunset or dusk, with skies of red and amber above golden-brown hills. The trees in Eventide are painted a mix of gold, brown, and pale green.

Moorcroft Pottery, Moonlit Blue vase
Lot 100: Moorcroft Pottery
Moonlit Blue vase

Moorcroft Pottery, Rare Eventide pitcher
Lot 130: Moorcroft Pottery
Rare Eventide pitcher