The Martin Brothers

Robert Wallace Martin, 1843-1923;
Charles Martin, i846-1910;
Walter Martin, 1859-1912;
Edwin Bruce Martin, 1860-1915

Introduction

The Martin Brothers' Pottery, active for more than three decades at Southall, was the joint enterprise of four talented brothers. The eldest of the four, Robert Wallace Martin, was the central figure of the group. He was born in London and trained at the Lambeth School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. From 1863 on, he exhibited reliefs, medallions and sculpture at the Royal Academy on an occasional basis. His involvement with the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, carving stone decorations in a Gothic style going back to the designs of Pugin, led to a life-long love of humorous and grotesque ornament. The two youngest brothers, Walter and Edwin Bruce Martin, attended the Lambeth School of Art and later became assistants at the Doulton pottery. In 1873 the four brothers opened their first family studio at Fulham which concentrated on the production of salt-glaze stoneware, and four years later they moved to Southall. The responsibilities of the studio were divided among the four men. Robert Wallace designed the grotesque figures and animal forms, in particular incredible birds with ingratiating expressions. Walter Martin served as technical advisor, while Edwin specialized in surface decoration, both incised and relief patterns. At first Charles Martin had assisted his brother Edwin, but he later took over the administrative side of the business. Stylistically the Martin Brothers' work followed a succession of stages which paralleled those of other producers of decorative ware. The rather medieval character of the work of the 1870s was succeeded by an Italianate and then a Japanese phase. A visit to the Paris Exhibition of 1900 exposed the Martins to the designs of continental Art Nouveau, and their late work, with its emphasis on organic forms, reflects this influence.” — Johnson, Fantastic Illustration and Design, p. 76

Galleries

Vases, jars, and other vessels

Martin Brothers Face Jugs

Bibliography

Johnson, Diana. Fantastic Illustration and Design in Britain, 1850-1930 Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1977.

“Some Recent Developments in the Potter Ware of the Martin Brothers.”The Studio (October 1907): 108-115. Internet Archive digitized from a copy in the University of Toronto Library.


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Last modified 22 March 2014