Thursday 28 November 2019
Although Frank Brangwyn RA (1867–1956) was a talented polymath, equally capable of producing paintings, murals, lithographs, etchings and woodcuts, and designs for stained glass, furniture, glass and ceramics, it is his ‘flat’ work for which he is probably best known, especially his poster designs produced during the First World War. His applied arts designs have received significantly less attention.
Libby Horner brings together all of Brangwyn’s designs for ceramics and glass into a useful and comprehensive volume, split into sections detailing ceramic designs for Royal Doulton, other ceramics produced by companies such as Ashtead Potters and Wilkinson, ceramic design sheets, glassware and glassware design sheets. The use of contemporary photographs and advertising material is excellent and the images included in this volume are one of its strengths – the range of sources consulted (public and private) as well as the inclusion of photographs from the author’s own collection will be new to many readers.
The catalogue sections include pattern numbers, sizes, details of where pieces can be found and where they were exhibited and published. This level of detail is extremely welcome and essential for serious collectors and museum curators. As well as ceramics designed by him, this book includes a full list of ceramics owned by Brangwyn and now in the collections of UK museums. Brangwyn gave other pieces to museums too – in 2016 the DAS gave £2000 to the William Morris Gallery for the conservation of a Japanese screen given to them by Brangwyn.
An extensive tabulated biography provides contextual information on Brangwyn’s wider life. Precise and detailed with a useful glossary, this catalogue successfully demonstrates that Brangwyn’s extraordinary range of ceramics deserves to be better known.
Brangwyn’s “Pots”: Catalogue of Ceramics and Glassware
Libby Horner, 2018, £75 hb, £25 pb + £3 p&p: contact email@example.com
Condensed from a review by Helen Ritchie in DAS Newsletter No. 117