Martin Brothers figure

This grotesque figure was created by one of the four Martin brothers, Wallace Martin. The brothers were Victorian pioneers in the production of studio pottery. Working during the 19th century Gothic Revival Movement the brothers are renowned for their eccentric, fantastical gothic designs and grotesque figures as well as for organic shaped vases and Japanese-inspired vase decoration. Robert Wallace, the eldest, worked as a stone carver on Pugin and Barry’s new parliament buildings, and was inspired by medieval art and architecture. He brought his experience of creating mysterious gothic gargoyles to the brothers’ ceramics venture.

The brothers established their shop in Fulham, London, in 1873. In 1877 the business moved to Havelock Road on the canal in Southall, Middlesex. Working as a family unit, the brothers handled each step of production themselves. Robert was the designer; Walter the potter and chemist; Edwin the engraver and decorator; and Charles the commercial manager. Each design was hand-crafted and during their 50 year enterprise, from 1873-1923, no two identical pieces were made.

This figure, created in 1878, showcases the distinctive salt-glazed stoneware produced by the brothers. A strong, non-porous for of pottery, the salt-glazing technique involved a high-temperature firing method where salt was thrown into the kiln. It would then fuse with the clay and create a surface which could be glassy or matt depending on the conditions of each firing. Whereas many stoneware glazes obscure the body itself, the salt-glaze method served to highlight the impressed and incised decoration on the surface of their pottery. On this figure, a scale-like texture was etched across the surface. The muted colour palette, consisting of blue, grey, brown and green glazes, is typical of Martinware.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Studio ceramics
stoneware (saltglazed) | | | |
Common Name
Martin Brothers figure
Simple Name
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Production Town
Production County
London; London
Production Country
United Kingdom: England; England
Production Date
Production Person Initials
Robert Wallace
Production Person Surname
Martin BrothersMartin
Production Year Low

Production Year High

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figure of a grotesque creature