Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Friend to Pots...

In our new "Books on Ceramics" catalog we have several books featuring the writings of an important early collector of English ceramics, Sir Arthur Herbert Church. Church [1834-1915] was a professor of Chemistry at the Royal Academy of Arts and a landscape painter "of no small talent"(1) who exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Church was also a friend of that prodigious collector, Lady Charlotte Schreiber, as well as such ceramics-oriented scholars and collectors as Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks and Henry Willet.

Church is especially important to the history of English ceramic collecting for the early role he played in the appreciation of English pottery, long regarded as the poor stepchild of the splendid and shiny porcelains. In the 1870s Church “stood foremost in the small group of independent spirits who, setting at defiance the dictates of the then prevailing taste for dainty porcelain, did not shrink from asserting their sincere appreciation of the robust and genuine character of the old English pottery. If the interest presented by a choice of salt-glaze, agate, tortoiseshell, and embossed and cloudy cream-coloured ware, is no longer questioned, it is chiefly due to the efforts that Church and his friends have made in vindication of their artistic and technical merits ”(Solon)

His own "splendid Staffordshire salt-glazed stonewares"(2) can now be viewed at the Ashmolean Museum.

1. Solon -Ceramic Literature: 1906.
2. Mellor -The Asmolean, Magazine Antiques: June, 2002.

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