Published 22nd November 2013
Every now and then a good job comes along, one that really engages your attention, something that has interesting pieces with a story to tell, an opportunity to research something novel, every day a new connection or discovery. Well for me the last two weeks has been just like that having been instructed to deal with the estate of the late Richard Harry Rhead-Cronin and prepare it for sale here in Exeter.
A typical tubelined tile by Charlotte Rhead (EX81)
Anybody with a passing interest in ceramics will certainly be aware of the name Rhead and most probably with Charlotte Rhead who unfairly is seen as something of a princess when compared the queen-like Art Deco status of Clarice Cliff or Susie Cooper.
Charlotte Rhead (standing) and her youngest sister Adolphine Rhead in playful mood
Charlotte Rhead was part of a third generation of Rheads, a potting dynasty that started with George Woolliscroft Rhead, included four of his eleven children George Woolliscroft Rhead Jnr, Frederick Alfred Rhead, Louis Rhead and Fanny Rhead. It continued with four of Frederick Alfred’s six children Frederick Hurten Rhead, Harry Rhead, Marie Rhead, Charlotte Rhead, Katherine Rhead and Adolphine Rhead. They all worked closely with the Staffordshire (and also American) ceramics industry as well being talented painters and illustrators.
Their contribution is sizeable having worked for 20-30 different concerns, including their own. Despite their significance, it is curious that there have only been two published works, both by Bernard Bumpus, one a monograph to Charlotte Rhead, the second an extended version of the original which included other family members.
Frederick Alfred Rhead's artwork for the Gladstone vase executed for EJD Bodley (FS21)
I am excited about the next few weeks running up to the sales scheduled for 17th December 2013 and 21st/22nd January 2014 and whilst there are greater scholars than me out there I hope that by sharing the experience and by focussing on pieces from the Rhead-Cronin Collection we all might become a little more familiar with this talented family.