Wednesday, 2 February 2011
You may have noticed this beautiful vase on some of my other photos of the 1853 Gallery in Salts Mill, Saltaire. It was made in Leeds, around 1885, at the Burmantofts pottery. It's huge - 44"/112cm high. Designed by Leonard King, it is hand-painted in wonderful turquoises and greens in the Isnik style (which I understand is a style of pottery made in Ottoman Turkey, in its turn styled on Chinese porcelain).
Jonathan Silver (who bought Salts Mill in 1987) was a passionate collector of the 'Arabian Nights' vases made by Burmantofts between 1885 and 1904. He began collecting whilst still a student and amassed a collection of over 100 pieces, many of which are now displayed in Salts Mill. There is a nice twist in the story of this particular vase, because it was originally exhibited in Saltaire's Victoria Hall in 1887, in an exhibition of Anglo-Persian Bermantofts pieces as part of the Royal Yorkshire Jubilee Exhibition. These brightly coloured art pottery pieces were much sought after in Victorian England. In 1994, Jonathan discovered the vase by chance in a gallery in Bond Street in London, bought it and brought it back to Saltaire.
(It constantly amazes me that all these priceless works of art, by Hockney and others, and the very valuable ceramics are just - almost casually - scattered around in what is often at weekends a very bustling, lively place. It's what gives Salts Mill its charm and ambience... it's absolutely unique - but must give the insurers a real headache!)