Australia commenced 1885 – 1957
London, England 1884 – 1966
[acquired as : UNKNOWN] 1923
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: ceramics, jardinière, stoneware, cobalt and iron underglaze colours, salt glaze stoneware: cobalt and iron underglaze colours, salt glaze
Signed by George Day, the head potter at Mashman Brothers in the 1920s, this impressive jardinière, in five sections, is reputedly one of a pair thought to have flanked the steps to the verandah of the potter’s Federation-style villa in a Sydney suburb.
The blue and brown colouring of the jardinière emulates the stoneware produced in the late 19th century by the English firm Doulton and Co., where the Mashman brothers (Henry, William and John) had trained. The decoration on the neck of the vase, the imprint of real leaves, is also in imitation of ‘Natural Foliage Ware’ pottery produced by Doulton & Co. This ware derived its name from the technique of decoration which involved pressing real leaves into wet clay to obtain an imprint of their shape, which was later coloured and glazed to suggest natural autumnal tonings. In the 1890s, the Mashman Brothers pottery produced a range of wares imitating ‘Natural Foliage Ware’.
On George Day’s jardinière, the sprays of imprinted gum leaves are joined by sprays of modelled gum leaves around the bowl of the vase. His enthusiasm for Australian motifs is further demonstrated by the addition of exaggerated lugs formed by fully three-dimensional models of a possum and a koala. This whimsical expression of an Australian style rests on a neoclassical base, whose style is more reminiscent of an object made in cast-iron than clay.
William and Henry Mashman arrived in Sydney in 1883 and were joined by their brother John in 1886; by the 1890s Mashman Brothers was producing a range of domestic wares, including vases and jardinières. In 1886, George Day arrived in Australia and studied art and ceramic modelling under Alexander Murray at the Sydney Technical College. George Day’s working life was spent with Mashman Brothers where he specialised in modelling and mould making.
John McPhee, 20021
1 John McPhee, Australian Decorative Arts in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra: Australian National Gallery, 1982, pp.60–61.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002