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Majolica Pottery

Nic Saintey writes about the development of and influences on Majolica (not to be confused with maiolica) pottery, from its invention by Minton and Arnoux through its zenith in the 1860-70s to its decline in the late 19th century.

A Wedgwood Majolica Oyster Plate. (FS17/571).

A Wedgwood Majolica Oyster Plate. (FS17/571).

Majolica (not to be confused with maiolica) was the invention of Herbert Minton and Leon Arnoux and was first exposed to public gaze during the 1851 Crystal Palace Great Exhibition.

An Alfred Renoleau Palissay Ware Plaque (FS17/555) offered in our Three Day Fine Art Sale starting on 29th January 2013 at our salerooms in Exeter, a style which
            heavily influenced the development of Majolica pottery.

An Alfred Renoleau Palissay Ware Plaque (FS17/555) offered in our Three Day Fine Art Sale starting on 29th January 2013 at our salerooms in Exeter, a style which heavily influenced the development of Majolica pottery.

Brightly glazed, strongly and often naturalistically modelled with floral and fauna, it borrowed much from Continental Palissy Ware and perhaps also from 18th century Staffordshire potters like Whieldon.

Staffordshire potters such as Whielden probably had an influence on the development
            of Majolica pottery, which can be seen when compared with this Staffordshire Solid
            Agate Teapot and Cover (FS17/564).

Staffordshire potters such as Whielden probably had an influence on the development of Majolica pottery, which can be seen when compared with this Staffordshire Solid Agate Teapot and Cover (FS17/564).

It proved to be an instant success and within a few years majolica was also being produced by Wedgwood and George Jones as well as a plethora of smaller manufactories and in France by Saint Clement, Massier and Sarraguemines.

A Minton majolica game pie dish, which will be auctioned as part of our three day fine sale on 29th/30th/31st January 2013 in Exeter, Devon. (FS17/559).

In the forthcoming ceramic section of the Fine Sale on 31st January 2013, there is a good cross section of archetypal pieces such as a Minton majolica game pie dish (lot FS17/559) and a Wedgwood majolica oyster dish. However, the more imaginative pieces are French in origin such as the Saint Honore chestnut basket (lot FS17/570) being a good example in this fine sale and the more dramatic Delphin Massier majolica bowl (lot FS17/563) modelled with fish and crabs amongst waves.

A St Honore pottery chestnut basket, which is archetypal of the majolica produced
            by manufactories in France. (FS17/570).

A St Honore pottery chestnut basket, which is archetypal of the majolica produced by manufactories in France. (FS17/570).

Like all ceramic innovations, majolica went through an arc of popularity reaching it's zenith during the High Victorian era of the 1860-70s, where many of the stunning architectural pieces and furnishing pieces were conceived.

A Delphin Massier Majolica Bowl (FS17/563), being offered in our January 2013 Fine
            Sale, which will also be available live online for those who cannot be in the saleroom
            on the day.

A Delphin Massier Majolica Bowl (FS17/563), being offered in our January 2013 Fine Sale, which will also be available live online for those who cannot be in the saleroom on the day.

It reached a ready market for more practical, but none the less decorative and well modelled items, such as stick stands, teapots and sardine boxes before falling foul of slip shod mass production and sloppy decoration in the last decade of the 19th century.

Tags

  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Fine Sale
  • Ceramics
  • Majolica
  • Pottery Auctions
  • Herbert Minton
  • Leon Arnoux
  • Continental Palissy Ware
  • Whieldon
  • Wedgwood
  • George Jones
  • Saint Clement
  • Massier
  • Sarraguemines

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About the Author

Nic SainteyNic Saintey
Ceramics and Glass

Nic Saintey has been a director of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood since 2003 and heads up the Ceramics and Glass Department. He is part of the team specialising in Chinese ceramics and works of art.

Nic's first career was in the Armed Forces where he served both as a military parachutist and paramedic. He joined a firm of Somerset auctioneers in early 1995 and Bearnes during a period of expansion in June 2000.

His effervescent nature, sense of humour, broad knowledge and experience has seen him appear as an expert for BBC television programmes. He undertakes regular talks to both academic and general interest groups talking on subjects as diverse as Staffordshire pottery and pop culture, Chinese porcelain and the troubled relationship between Britain and the Orient, the English drinking glass and the Donyatt potters.

He is an occasional contributor of articles for national and local publications and is equally fascinated by the stories attached to pots as he is about the objects themselves.

His personal interests include Oriental and domestic pottery, but especially that produced in the West Country.

Accompanied by his Lurcher Stickey, he is a keen Moorland walker (but only in the winter), an increasingly slow runner and a chaotic cook who always eats his own mistakes and, yes of course, he collects pottery!