Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Chess piece - Martin Ware
  • Martin Ware
    Martin, Robert Wallace, born 1843 - died 1923
  • Enlarge image

Martin Ware

  • Object:

    Chess piece

  • Place of origin:

    Southall (made)

  • Date:

    1902 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Martin, Robert Wallace, born 1843 - died 1923 (modeller)
    Martin Brothers (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stoneware, moulded, incised and glazed

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Clara Boulnois

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 13, shelf 3

This chesspiecee, a white pawn, is an example of the renewed nineteenth century interest in stoneware which took inspiration from the past, although it also demonstrates the ability of the Martin brothers to create original and characterful pieces.

The Martin brothers were intensely interested in surface decoration. They made almost any type of ware from clock cases to table wares to jardinières. Their most celebrated wares are the sculptural bird-headed tobacco jars. For many years the Martins worked almost exclusively in salt-glazed stoneware which results in the distinctive semi-matt, speckled surface and a limited colour range of browns, blues and greens. They usually added incised decoration and applied ornament.

Between them, the four Martin brothers formed a full pottery team. Robert Wallace (the eldest), was generally responsible for throwing and modelling, Walter Fraser for decorating and Edwin Bruce for glaze development and kiln management. From the late 1870s Charles ran the brothers' sales from their shop in Brownlow Street, Holborn. However, they did have outside help for both the practical side of the business and and also for designs and modelling from designer Mark V. Marshall and H.F. Fawcett, an artist who had previously worked with William De Morgan. Fawcett designed in the Japanese manner and produced sketches for the brothers which they used for many years.

Physical description

Chess Set. White Pawn. Stoneware. Moulded man's head and shoulders with incised chain-mail vest with black pigment, on a pedestal base. White glaze.

Place of Origin

Southall (made)


1902 (dated)


Martin, Robert Wallace, born 1843 - died 1923 (modeller)
Martin Brothers (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Stoneware, moulded, incised and glazed

Marks and inscriptions

'RW Martin & Bros London & Southall / 6.10.1902'
Maker's mark incised on reverse


Height: 8.5 cm, Width: 3.4 cm

Object history note

Modelled at the suggestion of Mr J.J. Wade , second division clerk at the V&A, who supplied chessmen for the artist's reference. The set was sold to Mrs Boulnois for £20. (Apocryphal).

Descriptive line

White pawn from 'Martin Ware' chess set, stoneware, modelled by R. Wallace Martin, made by R.W. Martin & Brothers, Southall, dated 1902

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Haslam, Malcolm. The Martin Brothers, Potters. Richard Dennis : London. 133 p., ill. fig. XXIV.

Labels and date

Chess Set 'Martin Ware'
Modelled by R. Wallace Martin, made by R.W. Martin & Brothers, Southall, Middlesex, England, dated 1902

C.211 I-1921 Mrs Clara Boulnois Bequest [23/05/2008]




Moulded; Incised


Ceramics; Art Pottery; Stoneware


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.