Mantle clock

This elaborate mantle clock was created by the four Martin brothers, Victorian pioneers in the production of studio pottery. Working during the 19th century Gothic revival, the brothers are renowned for their eccentric, fantastical gothic designs adorned with grotesque figures. Robert Wallace, the eldest, worked as a stone carver on Pugin and Barry’s new parliament buildings, inspired by medieval art and architecture, and 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 clock, created in 1885, 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.

Moulded gothic arcades surround the rectangular form of this clock. The clock itself is mounted above, on top of which the figure of a bard plays a harp. Decorative patterns are carved and etched into the surface. Incised onto the front face are personifications of the four seasons. The clock’s muted colour palette, consisting of blue, grey, brown and green glazes, is typical of Martinware. The markers mark is inscribed onto the back of the clock: R W Martin & Bros / London & Southall.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
stoneware (saltglazed) | metal, glass | | |
Common Name
mantle clock
Simple Name
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Production Town
Production County
London; unk
Production Country
United Kingdom: England; France / Switzerland
Production Date
Production Person Initials

Production Person Surname
Martin BrothersJapy Freres & Co. 
Production Year Low

Production Year High

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Martinware mantle clock