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Painting tile panels

  • Object:

    Design

  • Place of origin:

    Lambeth (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1893 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rowe, William (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and watercolour on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Supported by the Friends of the V&A

  • Museum number:

    E.924-2002

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case C, shelf 117

This is the ninth drawing from a series of twelve watercolours which show the manufacturing processes of Doulton's Lambeth pottery works, made by William Rowe about 1893. In this drawing, three female painters are either sitting or standing at wall easels in the studio to decorate tile panels. Unlike male workers doing skilled or heavy work, the female workers' role in a pottery was to assist male potters or to paint and decorate earthenware. This drawing offers a rare view of the interior of the design studio and gives invaluable information about the firm's practice of design and decoration. Above the drawing, the painter indicated, in pencil, that the process represented was that of 'painting tile panels'.

This drawing, along with other drawings in the series, provides a unique insight into the workings of the Lambeth factory. They not only depict processes from digging, grinding and purifying clay, to modelling, decorating, glazing and firing the finished piece, but also include portraits of Doulton's most important and influential designers and craftsmen, such as the Barlow sisters and Mark Marshall.

The set of drawings remained in the archives of the factory for many years until the dispersal of the Doulton material, when they were bought by the collectors of art pottery, Allen Harriman and Edward Judd. The designs seem not to have been executed in ceramic form as panels or a frieze as intended. However, it is recorded that a set of full-scale drawings was made and displayed at the Chicago exhibition in 1893 and were later purchased by Northwestern University Guild.

Physical description

This is the ninth drawing from a series of twelve watercolours which show the manufacturing processes of Doulton's Lambeth pottery works by William Rowe circa 1893. In this drawing, three women painters are either sitting or standing at wall easels in the studio to decorate tile panels. Above the drawing, the painter indicated, in pencil, that the process represented was that of 'painting tile panels'.

Place of Origin

Lambeth (made)

Date

ca. 1893 (made)

Artist/maker

Rowe, William (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and watercolour on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Painting tile panels.'
In pencil at the top side of paper

'9'
In pencil at the bottom right side of paper. This indicates that the watercolour is no.9 in the series of 12 watercolours that illustrate the manufacturing processes of Doulton's Lambeth pottery works.

Dimensions

Height: 10.5 cm drawing, Width: 26.7 cm drawing, Height: 28.1 cm sheet, Width: 38.2 cm sheet

Object history note

This drawing, along with other drawings in the set, remained in the archives of Doulton's Lambeth factory for many years until the dispersal of the Doulton material, when they were bought by the distinguished collectors of art pottery, Allen Harriman and Edward Judd. The designs seem not to have been executed in ceramic form as panels or a frieze as intended. However, it is recorded that a set of full-scale drawings was made and displayed at the Chicago exhibition in 1893 and were later purchased by Northwestern University Guild.

Historical significance: This remarkable series provides a unique insight into the workings of the Lambeth factory. There is almost no other visual documentation from this time.

In this drawing, three women painters are either sitting or standing at wall easels in the studio to decorate tile panels. Unlike male workers doing skilled or heavy work, the female workers' role in a pottery was to assist male potters or to paint and decorate earthenware. This drawing offers a rare view of the interior of the design studio and gives invaluable information about the firm's practice of design and decoration.

Historical context note

Doulton was one of the greatest English potteries founded in the 19th century. It encouraged workers, men and women, to sign their work and give the objects more of an individual and less of a factory feel. These watercolours by William Rowe appear to include portraits of Doulton's most important and influential designers and craftsmen, such as the Barlow sisters and Mark Marshall. William Rowe himself also occasionally worked at Lambeth, and it is possible that one of these drawings might include his own portrait. The Lambeth pottery works depicted in these drawings show that factory life has shifted from 'dark satanic mill' horrors to light and airy atmosphere. Part of Doulton's Lambeth factory still survives in Lambeth on Black Prince Road.

Descriptive line

A watercolour drawing for Doulton's Lambeth pottery works by William Rowe circa 1893.

Materials

Pencil; Watercolour; Paper

Techniques

Drawing techniques; Painting techniques

Subjects depicted

Art pottery; Painters; Tile; Painting; Tile panel

Categories

Drawings; Earthenware; Ceramics

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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