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  • Jug
    Martin, Robert Wallace, born 1843 - died 1923
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Southall (made)

  • Date:

    1906 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Salt-glazed stoneware

  • Credit Line:

    The 2nd Lieutenant Francis Bedford Marsh 1914-1918 War Memorial Gift

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 4

Object Type
The output of the Martin Brothers pottery of London was always highly ornamented, even including its useful wares like this jug. The brothers were intensely interested in surface decoration and took their ideas from a very wide variety of sources. Robert Wallace Martin (1843-1923), the eldest brother, trained at Lambeth School of Art, London, and was fully familiar with historic motifs. This jug uses slightly sinister, chortling and grimacing faces - in this case in the form of the Sun and Moon. Wallace began making vases in this vigorously modelled form about 1885, inspired by Janus, the ancient Roman god with two faces. The Martins worked exclusively in salt-glazed stoneware with a distinctive semi-matt, speckled surface and a limited colour range of browns, blues and greens. The technique and use of satyr-like masks have both English and German origins. This type of jug was clearly popular, as an unidentified German patron ordered 15 face jugs.

There were four Martin brothers in the firm, and they worked as a team. Robert Wallace was generally responsible for throwing and modelling, Walter Fraser (1857-1912) for decorating, and Edwin Bruce (1860-1915) for glaze development and kiln management. In practice, each could take on the roles of the others. From the late 1870s Charles Douglas (1846-1910) ran the brothers' sales from their shop in Brownlow Street, Holborn, London. However, they did have outside help for both the practical side of the business, such as the throwing and firing, and also for some designing and modelling. Mark V. Marshall, later to work at the Doulton ceramic factory, was employed in the 1870s. In 1879 Robert Wallace Martin met H.F. Fawcett, an artist who had previously worked with the ceramicist William De Morgan (1839-1917). Fawcett drew designs of flowers and animals in the Japanese manner and worked for a short time producing sketches for the brothers, which were used for many years thereafter. Ernest Marsh donated this vase and many other works by the Martin Brothers to the Museum in memory of his son 2nd Lieutenant Francis Bedford Marsh, killed during the First World War. Ernest Marsh was a friend to the brothers and a voracious collector of their ceramics.

Materials & Making
A photograph taken very late in Robert Wallace's life shows him working on a face jug, while the thrower in the background adds to the line of undecorated forms awaiting his attention. No two face jugs are exactly the same, as all have an extra pad of clay that was individually sculpted. Nevertheless, the same drawing would have been used repeatedly as inspiration and as a guide. Equally, the vagaries of a salt-glaze firing mean that each piece has a unique colour and texture.

Place of Origin

Southall (made)


1906 (dated)


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

Materials and Techniques

Salt-glazed stoneware

Marks and inscriptions

Incised '1-1906/R.W. Martin & Bros/London and Southall'


Height: 21.5 cm, Width: 18 cm, Depth: 19 cm

Object history note

Made by Robert Wallace Martin, R.W Martin & Brothers, Southall, London

Descriptive line

double-sided grotesque face jug

Labels and date

British Galleries:
In the late 19th century, in reaction to the emphasis on commercial industrial production, manufacturers and new, small workshops produced 'Art Pottery' in which freedom of expression was paramount. The Martin brothers were the most creative of these, using traditional salt-glazed stoneware for fantastic jugs like this example. [27/03/2003]
Jug 'Martin Ware'
Probably Modelled by R. Wallace Martin, made by the Martin Bros., Southall, Middlesex, England, 1900
Mark: 'R.W.Martin & Bros London & Southall 1-1900', incised
stoneware with modelled and incised decoration

C.493-1919 The 2nd Lieutenant Francis Bedford Marsh (1914-1918) War Memorial Gift [23/05/2008]


Ceramics; Containers


Ceramics Collection

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