Glazed earthenware vase

Glazed earthenware vase, 1879-1882
Christopher Dresser (1834-1904)
Ceramic, earthenware
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Glazed earthenware vase

This large two-tone lead glazed earthenware vase was designed by Scottish born Christopher Dresser and made by the Linthorpe Art Pottery (1878-1890) which he co-founded in North Yorkshire and. Dresser is regarded as one of the great pioneers of modern design and one of the first independent industrial designers who championed for design reform in the second half of 19th century Britain. Some of Dresser’s metalwork designs are still in production, such as his oil and vinegar sets and toast rack designs, now manufactured by Alessi.

From the late 1850s, Christopher Dresser designed a whole range of functional, yet beautiful, items for people’s homes including wallpaper, carpets, glass, furniture and ceramics. He was unusual for his time: while others were designing exclusive and expensive individual pieces for their clients’ homes, Dresser pioneered ‘industrial design’ – pieces which could be mass produced, making beautiful but functional household items more affordable.

Ornament, shape, colour and function were all important to Dresser’s work. He was inspired by what he saw as ‘perfection’ in nature and by ‘good design’ from all over the world. In 1876 he visited Japan and was allowed free access by the Emperor. All doors were open to him, and he used this opportunity to observe and study the superior Japanese techniques in ceramic design and production. He brought his new-found knowledge back to Britain, teaming up with landowner John Harrison to open the Linthorpe Pottery in Middlesbrough.

Dresser designed over 1,000 pots for the Pottery between 1879 and 1882 and became one of the most influential and innovative ceramic designers of all time.

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