Swan Vase

Swan Vase, 1889
Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Ceramic, lustreware
:BORGM 06755

Dining Room 

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Swan Vase

Walter Crane was a talented drawer and engraver from childhood. By the age of 17 his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and by 18 he was sketching and making block illustrations for books. He is best known for his illustrations of children’s books, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, and The Frog Prince. But he was also a talented designer for various branches of the decorative arts, such as textiles, wallpapers, stained glass, mosaics and pottery.

Crane admired William Morris’ work and writings. He shared his anti-imperialist views and concern for the inequalities in society. Like Morris he tried to bring art into the daily life of all classes. Crane also devoted much time and energy to non-political societies, such as the Art Workers Guild and he was a Vice President of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, a movement begun in 1890, whose aim was to promote loose-fitting clothing, in opposition to “stiffness, tightness and weight”.

The Swan Vase was designed for Maw & Co, which was established in 1850. By the 1880s it was the world’s largest ceramic tile company, producing some 20 million pieces a year. The lustred red glaze on this vase was also used for tile painting. Like most large potteries at that time, Maw & Co had a specialist section for the production of artistic or experimental pieces. Maw and Co. suffered as a result of both the First and Second World Wars and eventually closed in 1970.

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