According to the Collins Encylopedia (1974), Dresser designed the Goat Mask Vase for the firm of William Ault (b. 1814), who ran an art pottery with his daughter Clarissa in Swadlincote, near Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire. The vase, which dates from around 1894, has an aventurine glaze and is 8 1/2 inches high. Christopher Dresser's designs for pottery were primarily carried out in a new factory at Linthorpe near Middlesbrough in Yorkshire.
In 1879, the Linthorpe pottery went into production as a direct resuIt of Dresser meeting John Harrison, a local landowner who was interested in Dresser's theories on Art. It was decided to start a pottery, using the local clay on the siteof Mr. Harrison's 'Sun Brick Works'. Henry Tooth, an artist, was engaged as the manager; he had little experience of pottery but proved to have found his metier. Christopher Dresser was appointed Art Director and responsible for design until some time in 1882, and all his designs were impressed with his facsimile signature. From 1882, painted decoration became a more important feature, a Ithough Dresser's influence was still apparent in many designs; and the impressed Linthorpe mark took a new form incorporating the outline of a bowl.
From its inception the pottery was well received and the output increased considerably. Dresser's work can be divided into three groups, for the first and most severe, where the shape was the important factor, he drew inspiration from numerous sources especially Japan and Peru. The second group were incised or moulded in relief with geometric and stylised floral motifs and the third were painted or moulded with botanical studies. The glazes of these early Linthorpe pots were their principal decorative feature and presumably the work of Henry Tooth . The slip was combi ned with various metal oxides to produce colour effects unlike anything made in Europe at the time.
In the company prospectus of circa 1880 (reproduced in the catalogue of Linthorpe Pottery by theTeesside Museums and Art Galleries Services,1970), it states that Dresser's signature is 'a trade mark and guarantee of their genuineness, and of their being made in strict accordance with the principles of decorative art'. It is interesting to note that the prospectus puts forward a programme for executing wall papers, glass and metal, presumably designed by Christopher Dresser, which was never carried out at Linthorpe.
Henry Tooth left Linthorpe in 1882 and went into partnership with the potter, William Ault, and founded the Bretby Art Pottery. WiIIiam AuIt left Bretby in 1887 to form the AuIt Pottery at Swadlincote. Here, Christopher Dresser was to continue in pottery design and little is known about his work; Wakefield suggests in Victorian Pottery that he was designing for William AuIt from circa 1892 to 1896. Some of his designs were similar to those produced at Linthorpe, while others were quite different. The Pottery Gazette of January 1895 illustrates 'new designs' by Dresser for William Ault; and in February 1898, a series of 'egg vases' probably by Dresser. His designs were still in production by William Ault, five years after his death; the Pottery Gazette illustrates vases, in April 1908 and April 1909, that we know to be Dresser designs.
Last modified January 2000