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Plinth for Owl punch bowl: C.41B-1928

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Plinth for Owl punch bowl


Pottery: Martin Brothers




Carved, salt-glazed stoneware plinth

Square, carved and unglazed pedestal (almost a cube), with three arched pillars over an openwork oval trellis pattern on each of its sides. The corners are filled with a carved pattern which mimics the oval trellis. There are incised outlines to the main edges, and traces of tool markings and brown, blue and green colours on the sides. The top is flat and undecorated, except for the maker’s name incised in script; it has a waisted and chamfered edge, 4cm deep. The bottom is roughly made with a large circular hole in the middle. The whole is discoloured and marked as if it has been stored outside.


History note: Robert Wallace Martin (d. 1923); sold Sotheby's, 24 October, 1924, 'Extensive collection of Martin ware; old English furniture: the whole remaining stock of finished pieces of the Martin factory, the property of R.W. Martin Esq. (deceased). Sold by order of the administrator', lot 68; the owl and plinth bought by Cyril Andrade for £25 for Dr Glaisher FRS, Trinity College, Cambridge

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 36 cm
Depth: 14 in
Height: 30 cm
Height: 11.75 in
Width: 36 cm
Width: 14 in

Place(s) associated

  • Southall ⪼ Middlesex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

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


20th Century, Early
Production date: AD 1903 : The owl which stands on the plinth is dated 1903


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 owl, 103 cm high, is also in the Fitzwilliam collection.

The plinth was made to support a punch bowl, made to resemble an owl, which modelled by (Robert) Wallace Martin at the Martin Brothers' pottery in Southall. It remained there until it was sold to Dr Glaisher at the 1924 sale which followed Wallace’s death the previous year. The condition of the plinth suggests that it may have been kept in the garden for some years.

School or Style

Art Pottery

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work


Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hand building : Stoneware, rolled and carved and with incised decoration, unglazed.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Incised in script on the topside: ‘R W Martin, Southall, Middx’

  • Text: R W Martin, Southall, Middx
  • Location: Top of plinth
  • Method of creation: Incised in script
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.41B-1928
Primary reference Number: 77065
Old entry number: 4451
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Friday 29 September 2023

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 (2023) "Plinth for Owl punch bowl" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-11-29 23:25:19

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{{cite web|url= |title=Plinth for Owl punch bowl |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-11-29 23:25:19|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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