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'Spring' vase: C.17-X

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


'Spring' vase


Pottery: Martin Brothers
Potter: Martin, Robert Wallace




Salt-glazed stoneware vase with incised and coloured decoration

Thrown stoneware vase of ovoid shape with flared neck and foot, decorated with an incised and low relief design of geometric patterns, leaves, flowers, bands and arches, with three symmetrical leaf-shaped panels containing stylised flowers, painted with cream slip and green, brown and blue colours, and salt-glazed. A brown line runs around the rim, the base of the neck and the top of the foot. The underside is concave and glazed, with the maker’s name and date incised in script and incised tool marks.


History note: Probably from the collection of Dr Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge, although not listed in Bernard Rackham's Catalogue of the collection

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L.Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 12.5 cm
Diameter: 5 in
Height: 23.3 cm
Height: 9.25 in

Place(s) associated

  • Fulham ⪼ Middlesex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


19th Century, Late#
Production date: AD 1875


The Martin Brothers, Robert Wallace Martin (1843-24), Walter (1857-1912) and Edwin (1860-1915), were amongst the first ‘artist-potters’ of the late nineteenth century. They designed, made and decorated their own ornamental salt-glazed stoneware, originally using facilities at C.J.C.Bailey’s Fulham Pottery and, briefly, at Shepherd’s Bush. In 1877, they opened their own pottery at Southall, Middlesex, and by 1882 were producing some 5,000 pieces a year. Wallace had originally trained as a sculptor, exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy and elsewhere from c.1863. His younger brothers had learned their skills at Doulton’s, Walter as a thrower and chemist, Edwin as a decorator. Modelled work is generally attributed to Wallace, but otherwise it is thought that the three learned from each other, exchanging skills and sharing roles. A fourth brother, Charles (1846-1910), sold the products – known as ‘Martin-ware’ – from a shop at Brownlow Street, London.

This is early example of Martin ware, signed and numbered by Robert Wallace Martin. The decoration follows principles of geometric design set out by Owen Jones in his Grammar of Ornament, 1856, and developed by Christopher Dresser in The Principles of Decorative Design, 1873. Dresser encouraged designs where ‘power, energy, force or vigour [form] the dominant idea […as] in the bursting buds of Spring’. Wallace Martin seems to have picked up these ideas, both directly in this design, where the flowers seem to thrust upwards and outwards, pushing at the edges of the panels, and also in a later comment to Sydney Greenslade that he had sought to ‘express the energy of nature in Spring’(quotations in Haslam, 1978, p.42).

School or Style

Art Pottery

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of oxide colours ( green, brown, blue) slip

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Throwing : Thrown stoneware, decorated with an incised and low relief design, painted in cream, green, brown and blue, and salt-glazed

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: mark

  • Text: P27 R W Martin London 10-1875
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Incised in script
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: museum mark, probably indicating Glaisher Collection

  • Text: GLAISHER
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Stamped in black
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.17-X
Primary reference Number: 186318
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 13 March 2012 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "'Spring' vase" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-25 10:44:28

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