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  • Place of origin:

    Swadlincote (made)

  • Date:

    1892-1896 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    William Ault Pottery (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, glazed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

Object Type
On its own, this substantial vase, 50 centimetres high, is among the largest of Ault's production to Dresser's designs. But in addition, a matching pedestal was also available, doubling its height. As a container, it ideally served the late Victorian interest in exoticism - such as dried pampas grass, peacock feathers and similar outsized decorations. Like all of Dresser's designs for mass production, this vase was made in different glaze colours. Although this example fits the reform notion of clean and functional form, Ault's Pottery also made and marketed it with printed decoration of floral patterning in Art Nouveau style and naturalistic painting of chrysanthemums or dahlias.

Design & Designing
Dresser is often described as the 'father of the modern movement' and this vase form, based on the sphere and right angle, does indeed appear to preclude 20th-century Modernism. But, as is well established, his appreciation of spare, clean shapes, derives from his interest in Japanese forms and his profound understanding of manufacturing processes. This vase was made at William Ault's pottery at Swadlincote, near Burton-on-Trent in Derbyshire, was designed between 1892 and 1896. However, Dresser's earlier designs for the Linthorpe pottery, and for the metalwork companies with which he also had contracts throughout his career, are a similar play on geometric forms assembled in a wide variety of vases, jugs, candlesticks and other vessels.

This vase was made by the Ault Pottery, at Swadlincote, Derbyshire, owned by William Ault who first met Dresser in 1883.

Physical description

Bottle of white earthenware, with globular body, long cylindrical neck and two rectangular handles. Blue-green/white streaks shading to russet.

Place of Origin

Swadlincote (made)


1892-1896 (made)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
William Ault Pottery (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, glazed

Marks and inscriptions

Marks:'247', 'Chr.Dresser' impressed; 'Ault' and a scroll impressed


Height: 51 cm, Width: 38 cm including handles, Diameter: 23 cm base

Object history note

Designed by Christopher Dresser (born in Glasgow, 1834, died in Mulhouse, France,1904); made at the Ault Pottery, Swadlincote, near Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire

Descriptive line

Two-handled bottle, glazed earthenware. English (Swadlincote, William Ault's Pottery, designed by Christopher Dresser); about 1892-6

Labels and date

British Galleries:

Forms like these would not have been possible without Dresser's appreciation of the Japanese aesthetic. While there is no direct parallel to these forms in Japanese art, the straight handles and geometric shapes owe much to the Japanese approach to design. [27/03/2003]
Designed by Christopher Dresser, made by William Ault & Co., Ault Pottery, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, England,

C.28-1971 [23/05/2008]


Earthenware; Material


Glazing; Technique


Ceramics; Containers; Scotland


Ceramics Collection

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