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Wally Bird: C.1226 & A-1928

An image of Tobacco jar

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)

Titles

Wally Bird

Maker(s)

Pottery: Martin Brothers
Modeller: Martin, Robert Wallace

Entities

Categories

Description

Stoneware tobacco jar, hand-modelled onto a press-moulded body into the shape of a grotesque bird, painted in cobalt blue and brown, and salt-glazed.

Stoneware, hand-modelled onto a press-moulded body, painted in cobalt blue and brown and salt-glazed. the jar is in the form of a grotesque bird. The cover, modeled to form the head, has a lower rim which sits within the body of the lower part; the base of which is fixed with nails onto a turned, circular wooden base-plate. There are incisions through the clay which serve as the pupils of the eyes, and at the top of the beak.

The bird has a large brown beak, curved downward at the tip, its head is tipped slightly to one side and the eyes modeled to give it a comically wise expression. It has brown and blue plumage, with tufts of feathers around the eyes. The feathers are splayed onto the base at the back; the legs, painted with a yellow-brown stripe, each end with three toes spread across the base at the front. The makers mark with the date 5-1897 is incised in black script across the back of the base.

Notes

History note: Bought by Stanley Woolston at a sale by the Executors of E T Leeds Smith JP, at Sandy, Bedfordshire, on 8 December,1925, for Dr J.W.L. Glaisher, Trinity College, Cambridge, in Cambridge. Dr Glaisher paid £15

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 23.2 cm
Height: 9.125 in

Place(s) associated

  • Southall ⪼ Middlesex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr

Dating

Late 19th Century
Victorian
Production date: dated AD 1897

Note

Robert Wallace Martin (1843-24) and his brothers 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.

The Fitzwilliam collection also contains an unusually large Martin Brothers’ ‘owl’ (height 103cm),which is truer to nature, but also bears a quizzical, human-like, expression (C.41 & A-1928).

The Wally Birds, so called because they were modelled by Robert Wallace Martin, are a particularly good example of the brothers’ working together. Both Edwin and Walter Martin drew caricatures of humans as birds, both in pencil and watercolour, and Charles modified the lids so they could be turned from side to side (Haslam, 1978, p.91).

This is one of a many examples of Martin Brothers’ ‘Wally Bird’ tobacco jars, the earliest made around 1880. Perhaps originally following in the tradition of English pottery ‘owl’ jugs and jars, the birds acquired a striking anthropomorphic quality, which in some becomes a caricature of human ‘types’ (such as ‘The Judge’) or known personalities, such as the Prime Minister, Gladstone. At the time they were made, such caricatures were popular in illustrations, an example being H Stacy Marks’ painting of storks in human attitudes, published in the Magazine of Art in 1878.

School or Style

Art Pottery

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Base Plate composed of wood
Lid Depth 11.5 cm Depth 4.5 in Height 8 cm Height 3.125 in Width 8.5 cm Width 3.25 in
Base Diameter 13.3 cm Diameter 5.125 in Height 17.5 cm Height 6.875 in
Decoration

Materials used in production

Salt-glaze
Stoneware

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Stoneware tobacco jar and cover, hand-modelled onto a press-moulded body into the shape of a grotesque bird, painted in cobalt blue and brown, and salt-glazed; the base fixed with nails onto a turned, circular wooden base-plate.
Salt-glazing
Hand-modelling

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: the s of Bros is raised

  • Text: Martin Bros London &/Southall/5-1897
  • Location: At back of base and round rim of detachable head
  • Method of creation: Incised in script
  • Type: Mark
  • Text: Martin Bros. Potters, 16, BROWNLOW ST., HIGH HOLBORN, LONDON.
  • Location: Inside head of bird
  • Type: Label
  • Text: MARTINWARE NOTICES:- THE TIMES (LEADER) DEC 22 1885 PALL MALL GAZETTE FEB 4 1890 MAGAZINE OF ART (ILLUS) SEP 1882 ART JOURNAL JULY 1883 BRITISH ARCHITECT NOV 1884
  • Location: In the body of the bird
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1226 & A-1928
Primary reference Number: 71623
Old object number: 4737
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 3 August 2022 Last processed: Tuesday 22 November 2022

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Wally Bird" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/71623 Accessed: 2022-12-02 03:09:59

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/71623 |title=Wally Bird |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-02 03:09:59|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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