Stunning Crown Devon Fieldings Mattajade Fairy Castle 2406 Pattern Vase

The Lustre Alternative - A New Style For The 1930s

The softer tones and less formal shapes of the Art Deco period ushered in a new style of decoration, known as "handcraft". A Crown Devon advertisement from the early 1930s suggested that "modern handcraft" wares might "enhance the beauty of the artistic home".

Ribbed, angular and asymmetrical shapes combined with slip-trailed and handpainted decoration to create a new, more tactile style, in keeping with changing fashions in furnishings and art.

In this month's newsletter we will look at a few of the more unusual examples of a style of decoration that characterised much 1930s Art Deco pottery. Matt-glazed wares began to appear in the mid-1920s, but became particularly popular in the 1930s, until the Second World War brought decorative pottery production to an abrupt halt.

The most common examples of matt-glazed wares are perhaps those of Charlotte Rhead, produced during her time at Crown Ducal. Hand-decorated with tube-lined patterns and pastel or neutral coloured base colours, Rhead's work is still popular and pieces decorated with the more common patterns are easy to find.

Much harder to find, and more exotic and collectable, are some of the matt glazed wares produced by Carlton Ware and Crown Devon. These pieces were often decorated with the same intricately enamelled and gilded patterns as these potteries' contemporary lustre wares, but the different glaze led to a surprising difference in character.

Carlton Ware - An Oriental Theme

This large Carlton Ware bowl is a wonderful example of this style, with a matt orange ground decorated with one of Carlton Ware's Chinoiserie patterns, Chinese Bird and Cloud. The pattern is composed of a stylised oriental bird surrounded by flower and cloud motifs.

 Carlton Ware Chinese Bird and Cloud 3275 Large Bowl  Carlton Ware Chinese Bird and Cloud 3275 Large Bowl  Carlton Ware Chinese Bird and Cloud 3275 Large Bowl

The oriental bird was a recurring theme in Carlton Ware Chinoiserie patterns - as well as the "Chinese Bird", there was also a "Sketching Bird", similar to a Kingfisher, that was used in several patterns and a pheasant, used in the Rockery and Pheasant pattern and several others.

Patterns of this kind were made up from a number of different elements, some of which were of a fixed size. This meant that the patterns were often applied differently to each shape in a range. Small vases and candlesticks, for example, often have a more limited version of a pattern, in line with their smaller display surfaces.

The size and shape of this bowl discounted any such restrictions, and this elegant pattern was applied fully to both the inside and outside of the bowl, making it a lovely display piece.

Crown Devon - A Fine Competitor

1930 saw the defection from Wiltshaw & Robinson [Carlton Ware] to Crown Devon of two of W&R's senior managers. Enoch Boulton had been Design and Decorating Manager at W&R, and George Barker the Sales Director.

It is perhaps not surprising that a dramatic revision of Crown Devon's ranges followed their arrival, including the introduction of beautifully-decorated matt glazed wares that shared many of the characteristics of Carlton Ware's finest examples of this genre.

One of Crown Devon's most collectable Art Deco decorative ranges is undoubtedly the Mattajade range. As its name suggests, pieces in this range were decorated with a matt, jade-coloured glaze, over which a number of elaborately enamelled, painted and gilded patterns were applied. Here are a few examples of Mattajade pieces:

Crown Devon Fieldings matt glaze vase pattern M334, c1930s-mid 1940s Stunning Crown Devon Fieldings Mattajade Fairy Castle 2406 Pattern Vase Crown Devon Fieldings Mattajade 2342 Pattern Footed Dish Shape 775

Crown Devon also produced a similar range of shapes decorated with a yellow matt glaze. This large jug is decorated with the galleon pattern - a pattern which was quite widely used on Crown Devon's lustre wares of the same period, but which takes on an altogether different and bolder character in this context.

The pattern also gains additional visual impact on this piece by virtue of the ribbed body and the slip-trailed outline of the pattern, applied underneath the glaze.

 Crown Devon Fieldings Galleon pattern jug pattern M169, c1930s-mid 1940s  Crown Devon Fieldings Galleon pattern jug pattern M169, c1930s-mid 1940s

These matt-glazed wares were extremely successful when they were introduced in the 1930s, capturing the public's imagination - indeed, Queen Mary bought some pieces from the Mattajade range when it was first launched at the British Industries Fair in 1932.

We hope you've enjoyed this brief look at matt-glazed wares. They offer a more subtle alternative to their lustre cousins that is perhaps a better fit in today's homes - as it evidently was in the modern home of the 1930s.

As ever, if there is anything you would like to ask about or suggest to us, please feel free to contact us.

Best wishes for the festive season,

Perfect Pieces


Here you'll find a list of our past newsletters. They feature information on different potteries, some of our featured stock and information on antique fairs and general news from the antique and collectors world!

Happy reading!