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The MARTIN BROTHERS

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'Wally-bird' c32 The MARTIN BROTHERS
'Wally-bird'
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Dates: active 1873-1914

Often, considered the first British studio potters the four brothers worked collectively; Robert Wallace (1843-1924), Charles Douglas (1846-1910), Walter Frazer (1859-1912) and Edwin Bruce (1860-1915). Wallace studied ceramics and sculpture at Lambeth School of Art, c.1860, and became the main sculptor for the business. He is best known for his strange birds (Wally birds) and humorous mugs with faces influenced by Gothic grotesques. Charles acted as business manager while Walter was the principal thrower. Their work was influenced by Japanese art and included flower and animal motifs in the muted colours characteristic of salt-glaze technique. The firm was originally founded in 1873 and was based in Fulham but in 1877 they moved to Southall. They opened a showroom in Holborn after 1979 which was only closed in 1910 after a serious fire. After 1900 Edwin’s work became more experimental with an emphasis on shape and glaze rather than applied decoration. Their kiln in Southall was fired usually only twice a year and they would expect a loss of about a third of their work on each firing. Sidney Greenslade, the buyer for the Arts and Crafts collection, at Aberystwyth was a close friend and advisor of the brothers and it had been his intention to publish a book on their work. His extensive notes and correspondence with them are held in Ealing Central Library. Lit. Malcolm Haslam The Martin Brothers, Richard Dennis, 1978
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