Potters' View of Canada

Potters' View of Canada: Canadian Scenes on Nineteenth-Century Earthenware

Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 207
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  • Book Info
    Potters' View of Canada
    Book Description:

    The potters' views of Canada have a many-sided appeal, linking the world of artists, printmakers, and photographers to the ceramics industry. As part of material history, they reflect not only taste in the wares themselves - their bodies, colours, shapes - but also the changing ways of looking at things, from the romantic to the literal.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6093-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-5)

    This book deals with the views of Canada that appeared as decoration on nineteenth-century earthenware. During much of that century the name “Canada” belonged to certain parts of the country but not to others. Constitutional change and progress gradually brought the whole area together. It is in the modern inclusive sense that the word has been used. These are the potters’ nineteenth-century views of what has become the Canada of today.

    The type of wares dealt with are known as historical china in the United States. There the interest in collecting American scenes on pottery began well over a century...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Printing on Pottery
    (pp. 6-10)

    British-made earthenware with printed decoration was the most popular of all the ceramic wares used in nineteenth-century Canada. It was in demand not only in Canada but around the world. What a contemporary commentator called the “untiring,” almost “savage” intensity of British industry was epitomized in these ceramic products made possible by the mastery of mass production that was the direct outcome of the Industrial Revolution.¹ It is with this class of ceramic wares that earthenware printed with Canadian views belongs. Its makers were potters in England and Scotland.

    When compared with the potters of the Orient and continental Europe,...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Death of Wolfe
    (pp. 11-16)

    Intense public interest in what has been described as the most popular military print in the history of art prompted the earliest of the Canadian views on earthenware.¹ In the eighteenth century it caught the attention of the foremost potter of the day. Almost half a century later nineteenth-century potters were still making use of the same theme. This early view was not topographical but a death scene: the death of General James Wolfe, on 13 September 1759 at Quebec. The leading potter to make use of it was Josiah Wedgwood. The unprecedentedly popular engraving was William Woollett’s “Death of...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Canadian Scenes from the “Father of the Potteries”
    (pp. 17-24)

    On the morning of 16 December 1829, the Staffordshire pottery town of Burslem awoke to the firing of cannon, the ringing of bells, and the blare of band music. That night the whole place was “one blaze of light.” In the words of theStaffordshire Advertiserthe next day: “A general illumination took place, as if by magic … The Town Hall was brilliantly illuminated and several appropriate transparencies were displayed in the windows of different inhabitants.” This general rejoicing was not, as might be supposed, the celebration of some great military victory or national event. Instead, as theAdvertiser...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Potters and Paddle-Wheelers
    (pp. 25-32)

    The age that looked to nature to inspire “lofty sentiments … of majesty and glory”¹ worshipped also the achievements of man; and none of man’s achievements in the nineteenth century inspired livelier excitement on the part of the general public than the taming of wind and tide by steam power. “No wind or tide can stop her,” exulted theQuebec Mercury(6 November 1809) on the arrival in port of the first steamboat to ply Canadian waters. That first Canadian steamboat was theAccommodation, built in Montreal for John Molson, the brewer, who now threw himself enthusiastically into the promotion...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Viewing the Cunarders
    (pp. 33-38)

    The potters’ involvement with Canadian advances in steam transportation did not end with the Molsons and the Torrances. In 1840 Samuel Cunard of Halifax (Plate 19) became the first to span the Atlantic with a fleet of wooden paddle-wheelers carrying the royal mails and committed to regular schedules. At least three potters celebrated this feat on earthenware.

    At the beginning of the Victorian period the British government was considering ways to speed Empire communications. Steam was the answer. When tenders were called for replacing the Halifax sailing packets with steamships, Cunard won the contract. The brash colonial’s success surprised everyone....

  10. CHAPTER SIX Arctic Scenery
    (pp. 39-43)

    It was inevitable that the potters’ views of Canada would include Arctic scenery. Throughout the whole of the nineteenth century polar regions that are now part of Canada were in the news in one way or another. In the Regency and the opening years of the Victorian period it was the almost mystical quest for the Northwest Passage, linking Europe and Asia through the seas and channels of the Canadian north, that caught the imagination of the public. During the rest of the century the haunting search for Sir John Franklin and his men, who had sailed off into the...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Bartlett’s Canadian Scenery
    (pp. 44-51)

    In the late summer of 1838 an English artist, William Henry Bartlett (Plate 32), arrived in Bytown, the settlement on the Ottawa River that was to become the capital of Canada. He had had a “tempestuous” crossing from Liverpool, but on 26 August he wrote to his friend Dr William Beattie that he had survived all the risks of the voyage and was now getting on “pretty well” with his new project. That project, which would keep him in Canada until December, was to result inCanadian Scenery, described by Beattie as an “elegant” production.¹ Bartlett was the illustrator, the...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Morley’s Bartlett Views
    (pp. 52-60)

    The potter whose Bartlett views of Canada were in production over the longest period was Francis Morley. Morley came on the market with an even wider range of colours than Podmore, Walker & Co., offered his Canadian scenes at two price levels (with or without added gilding), registered one of the shapes on which the Canadian views appeared, and produced a pattern his successors found worthwhile to bring back in the 1880s.

    Morley began potting on his own account in 1845,¹ but his connection with the British North American colonies began well before that date. He was a son-in-law of William...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Maple Leaves and Beavers
    (pp. 61-67)

    The potters’ conception of Canada included more than topographical views: an awareness of Canadian emblems provided two Staffordshire potters with designs for table and toilet ware decoration. These wares differed from the topographical views in one important aspect. The topographical views, with rare exceptions, made a general appeal to the nineteenth-century interest in geography and the romance of distant lands. Their sales potential was not necessarily restricted. By contrast, wares with maple leaves and beavers made a patriotic appeal in Canada but were without significance in other parts of the world.

    The earlier of these Staffordshire wares had an appeal...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Canadian Sports
    (pp. 68-73)

    The zest and excitement of Canadian sports, particularly winter sports, inspired a multi-scene pattern on Scottish earthenware of the 1880s. The maker was John Marshall & Co. of Bo’ness.

    In Great Britain winter was often depicted by artists as a bitter experience. Sheep huddled together in driving snow conjured up thoughts of nature’s cruelty; waifs too thinly clad for freezing temperatures or old men forlornly driving cattle along snowrutted lanes were familiar subjects. Canadians, whose winters were cold beyond the wildest imagining of many in the old land, experienced, none the less, an exhilaration in that season. As one Canadian declared,...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Photographs and the Potter
    (pp. 74-80)

    Mary FitzGibbon, writing at the end of the 1870s and describing “the ‘best room’ of most Canadian farmhouses,” noted that the few books almost always included “a Bible, almanac, and photograph album.”¹ The photograph album was already well on its way to becoming a familiar object in Canadian city houses as early as the 1860s, sharing the drawing room table with books of engravings such as Bartlett’sCanadian Scenery.² By 1880, the year Mary FitzGibbon’s Canadian travel book was published, the engravings had been all but displaced, in town and country, by the photograph album. It was the photograph album...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE Miscellaneous Canadian Views
    (pp. 81-90)

    The earliest of the potters’ views of Canada that comes under the classification of miscellaneous is one of Quebec taken from the opposite shore (Plate 137). In date it belongs to the early 1830s and is, therefore, of about the same period as Enoch Wood & Sons’ view of the same scene approached from the same angle, but interpreted differently. Both were printed in the same dark blue. This second view, however, has no maker’s mark.

    Those resident in British America in the 1830s considered the old walled city of Quebec one of “the most romantic” sights “in the Canadas.” Quebec,...

    (pp. 92-92)
  18. PLATES
    (pp. 93-176)
    (pp. 177-180)
  20. NOTES
    (pp. 181-190)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 191-195)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 196-196)