About 1874 or 1875, I think, I designed some sets of six and eight-inch fireplace tiles for Messrs. Maw and Co. These, in the first place, consisted of figures much in the style of my nursery books, of such characters as Mistress Mary, Boy Blue, Bo-Peep, and Tom the Piper’s Son. These were etched on copper in outline, and printed and transferred to the tile, and afterwards coloured by hand.

The treatment did not differ much from the treatment of similar subjects in the full pages of “The Baby’s Opera” —in fact, I rather think that the square form, size, and treatment of the six-inch tiles really suggested the adoption of the same size and treatment for the book, which must have been planned very shortly afterwards. This affords an instance of the suggestive influence one kind of method has upon another.

From left to right: Sol, Aurora, Luna. and Hiem. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

A set of eight-inch tile designs (produced in the same way) of the Seasons of the Year and the Times of Day was more ambitious in aim and classical in treatment. The subjects were connected by a slight repeating design by way of open border above and below, which covered the joints when the tiles were placed one above the other in the jambs of a fireplace.

A set of six-inch tiles, representing by single figures in circles the Four Elements, was designed for the same firm a little later. These were relieved upon backgrounds of solid colour of the same tint as the outline. Then for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, I designed a vertical panel and two friezes to be inserted in a set of wall tiles painted with a pattern designed by Mr. Lewis F. Day. “Labour,” was the theme of these designs— Ploughing, Sowing, and Reaping. These tiles were produced in lustre ware.

For the same firm also I designed a set of vases for lustre ware, giving the sections for the thrower, and painting on the biscuit the designs, which were copied on duplicate vases in lustre. These were exhibited at one of the Arts and Crafts Exhibitions. The reproduction on page 31 gives an idea of the contours of these vases and the general effect of the designs.

Seven Examples of Lustre Ware Pottery designed by Walter Crane and manufactured by Messrs. Maw & Co., Ltd., Benthall Works, Salop. Before 1898. Source: The Work of Walter Crane, p. 22.


The Work of Walter Crane with Notes by the Artist. The Easter Art Annual for 1898: Extra Number of the “Art Journal”. London: J. S. Virtue, 1898. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Getty Art Institute. Web. 3 January 2018.

Last modified 4 January 2018