Jonathan Mallinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 7–30


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

1. 1897–1900: The Making of a Potter

  • Jonathan Mallinson (author)
This chapter looks at Moorcroft’s training as a potter at the firm of E.J.D. Bodley where his father had worked as Artistic Director, and his education both at the innovative Burslem School of Art and at the National Art Training School (soon to be renamed the Royal College of Art). His appointment as a designer at James Macintyre & Co., Ltd. put him in a firm at the very centre of enlightened art education in the Potteries, its Directors including the forward-looking M.P. Wm Woodall (who had served on the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction), the philanthropist Th. Hulme, and the gifted ceramic chemist, H. Watkin. It was a firm developing its production of electrical porcelain, but keen also to invest in the manufacture of high-quality art pottery. The firm’s Minutes reveal the great benefit it soon derived from Moorcroft’s appointment. After just four years, Moorcroft had acquired an international reputation as a ceramic artist, and his Florian ware was stocked by exclusive retailers the world over, bringing widespread commercial success. It was the ideal collaboration of manufacturer and designer, of commerce and art, very much in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts. The chapter also considers Moorcroft’s distinctive integration of ornament and form, a quality often singled out in early reviews and quite different from the ‘applied’ decoration of much contemporary pottery. No less distinctive was his technique of slip decoration, his unusually rich colours achieved by staining the unfired clay with metallic oxides, and his unique practice of signing every pot by hand.


Jonathan Mallinson

Emeritus Professor of French at University of Oxford

Jonathan Mallinson is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern French Literature and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. He has written extensively on prose fiction, comedy and satire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and has edited works by Molière, Voltaire and Graffigny. His interest in British art pottery and its reception dates back many years.