Jonathan Mallinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 185–206


  • English

Print Length

22 pages

9. 1924–25: Recognition of the Artist Potter

  • Jonathan Mallinson (author)
This chapter explores the development of Moorcroft’s work against the background of two major international exhibitions: the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924, and the Exposition des arts décoratifs et industriels in Paris the following year. His high-profile involvement in the Wembley exhibition, epitomised in his magnificent stand designed by Edward Maufe, was one of the landmarks of his career. His display enhanced his reputation as a ceramic artist, culminating in an article published in the Daily Graphic entitled ‘A Potter of Genius’. Surviving reports written to Moorcroft three or four times a week by his two assistants record the impact made by his ware on the many visitors to the stand, from celebrities to ordinary members of the public. Such was Moorcroft’s status as one of the country’s most innovative potters that he was put under considerable pressure by the Board of Trade to exhibit at the Paris Exhibition. This event would become a focus for extensive reflection about the need to modernise British industrial design. While some argued for the aesthetic and economic benefits of following more closely the European and Scandinavian styles in evidence at the Paris Exhibition, Moorcroft did not. He set out his position in a letter to The Times, arguing for design primarily as a mode of self-expression, not of commercial expediency. For all that his work did not follow the trends of ‘modern’ style, it was nevertheless awarded a Gold Medal at the Exhibition. These are the years of Moorcroft’s greatest commercial success, but this was not the basis of his reputation. He was admired for his distinctive, expressive art, described in one review as ‘cogent and articulate’.


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.