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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:

    Salt-glazed stoneware

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs Clara Boulnois

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 13, shelf 3

This chesspiecee, a white rook, 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 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

Stoneware chesspiece; the white rook. Man on look-out atop a castle tower.

Place of Origin

Southall (made)


1902 (dated)


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

Materials and Techniques

Salt-glazed stoneware

Marks and inscriptions

'RW Martin & Bros London & Southall / 16.9.1902'
Maker's mark incised around base


Height: 9.7 cm, Width: 4.9 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 rook, 'Martin Ware' chess piece, salt-glazed stoneware, modelled by R. Wallace Martin and made by Martin Bros., 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 the Martin Bros., Southall, Middlesex, England; dated 1902
Mark: variously 'R W Martin & Bro. London & Southall' and dates in 1902, incised
Salt-glazed stoneware

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




Ceramics; Art Pottery


Ceramics Collection

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