Background to Minton British Ceramics
Thomas Minton bought pottery in Stoke-on-Trent in 1793 and, in 1796, began production of inexpensive blue transfer-printed earthenware. His son Herbert Minton became director in 1836, expanded the range of wares, and hired artists. In the 1840s and 1850s, Henry Cole designed tableware shapes with printed decorations by A.W.N. Pugin; both were friends of Herbert. In 1849, Léon Arnoux became artistic director and introduced majolica with bright glazes, naturalistic forms, and amusing shapes popular until the 1880s. From the early 1840s to the turn of the century, the firm produced vast amounts of decorative tiles, starting with encaustic examples for flooring. The firm produced printed tiles with artists, including J. Moyr Smith and Christopher Dresser. Its tiles were also used to decorate furniture.
The Dawn of Mass Market Dominance
In 1858, Herbert Minton’s nephew Colin Minton Campbell became director. Minton’s domestic wares were for the mass market. In 1871, Minton established the Art Pottery Studio in South Kensington, London, where instructors taught earthenware decoration; the studio also practiced china painting during the Aesthetic movement. The studio was directed by William S. Coleman, who began employment at Minton in 1869. The studio closed when its building burned down in 1875. From the early 1860s, Minton’s wares were influenced by Eastern and Middle-Eastern designs, motifs, and materials. In the 1870s, when large numbers of French artists came to Britain, Minton began the production of pate-de-pate pieces with classical decoration.
Minton British Ceramics: The 20th Century Onwards
As the firm moved into the 20th century, its designs started to incorporate Art Nouveau and German Sezession influences, reflecting the changing art movements of the era. Consequently, these shifts marked Minton’s ability to adapt to changing tastes while maintaining its signature quality. In 1968, it joined the esteemed Royal Tableware Group, affirming its standing as a purveyor of premium ceramics.
The Legacy and Milestones of Minton British Ceramics
Minton showed off its majolica at the 1851 London Great Exhibition. This helped make Minton a world leader in ceramics and built its reputation.