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Charles Vyse Essay

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Nineteen Twenty It has long been popular for figure-makers to represent in pottery, famous individuals of previous eras, either real or imaginary. The mass produced chimney-pieces of Staffordshire often illustrated heroes and villains of the day. The Chelsea and Bow figure makers, if not depicting dainty shepherds and shepherdesses, found inspiration in deities and allegories of classical antiquity. Charles Vyse chose his modern subjects from people who were unaffected by the aesthetic values and the fashions of the day, such as gypsies, circus folk, market women, flower girls. He was both a realist figure-maker and inadvertent social chronicler of England’s street characters that in modern 1920s were fast becoming obsolete. In the early 20th…show more content…
Wilson Potter, Esq RA1346, and a second exhibit simply titled A Pottery Group RA1428. At this period, Vyse rarely titled his exhibits; however, this group has since been identified, The Youthful Bacchus, or as it is more commonly known as The Boy and Goat (Fig 31). Why he ventured into the idealised Greco/Romano world, he never explained, a possible springboard might have been a commission by a client. The genre often referred to as allegorical or classical, however, opinion differs on the merits his foray into the genre. When modelling the figure group Boy and Goat, Vyse employs individual and humorous elements, thus creating a warm, sympathetic entity that advocates a figure derived from an antique source. The decoration cleverly uses the unpainted clay-body of the subject to represent skin-tone to accentuate the deep plum-coloured cincture, which contrasted agreeably with the goat’s curly grey-blue fur. On the elaborately decorated editions marked 1920, the blue cloth draping the goat’s back, was sumptuously adorned with bunches of gilded grapes. However, this form of decoration is absent on later copies. The Vyses quickly came to realise the commercial folly of decorating a figure in this elaborate way, and time consuming for the figure painters. The golden grapes motif gave way to the triple golden bands edging the cobalt drapery. On subsequent editions, even this form of decoration has…show more content…
The Lavender Girl (Fig 32) the precursor, was similar in proportion to the previously mentioned Lady with a Fan (Fig 23). The family has it that Vyse offered both figures to Charles Noke, for production by Doulton Burslem, however, he withdrew the offer and made and the figures at his studio in Cheyne Row. For reasons of economy, Vyse designed his earthenware figure Lavender Girl for assembly using no more than five separate piece-moulds. From a set of moulds he could produce, some five or six precise replicas of the original model. Initially, from a single model, he proposed to make one hundred editions. As previously mentioned, the earthenware clay body from which Vyse produced the figures, when glaze-fired, appeared creamy flesh-coloured in hue. Whether this phenomenon was by his design or merely serendipity is lost to us. The clay body allowed Vyse the luxury of not having to formulate a flesh tint for the model’s face and arms. Furthermore, the pallid hue also served as a background for the decoration of the drapery. Initially, he decorated each figure in a differing colour way. Of the known copies of the Lavender Girl, there is much diversity of decorated of the shawl, the subject’s clothes are also equally diverse in their ornament. It is a paradox that having economised on the piece-moulds, Vyse should sanction
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