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Queen's ware figurine, Penelope by Arnold Machin - 1953

Bust of Penelope, © Wedgwood Museum
    Bust of Penelope
    © Wedgwood Museum

This Queen’s ware figurine of ‘Penelope’ was modelled by artist Arnold Machin. In 1940 Arnold Machin became the first full-time figure modeller to be employed at Wedgwood’s Barlaston factory and produced many pieces in a variety of ceramic bodies, including Queen’s ware, Windsor grey and terra cotta.

This Queen’s ware figurine of ‘Penelope’ was modelled by artist Arnold Machin. In 1940 Arnold Machin became the first full-time figure modeller to be employed at Wedgwood’s Barlaston factory and produced many pieces in a variety of ceramic bodies, including Queen’s ware, Windsor grey and terra cotta. The pieces he created for Wedgwood during the Second World War were simple so that they required the minimum of craftsmanship to produce a good result, a reaction to the fact that many of the factory’s personnel were involved in war-work. This piece depicts a woman with hands clasped, head slightly bowed with eyes closed, a cloak drapes her shoulders. She is wearing a small pointed skull cap with a depression at the top, she has long flowing wavy hair and a large circular disc at the throat. The object was made in 1953.

  • Type of object: Portraits and figures/bust
  • Mark: WEDGWOOD
    BARLASTON
    ENGLAND
    [Printed in black]
  • Year produced: 1953
  • Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
  • Glaze: clear glaze
  • Material: ceramic
  • Decoration: glazed
  • Accession number: 9644
  • Dimensions: H: 278mm, Depth: 120mm, W: 150mm

Related people

  • Arnold Machin Modeller

    Arnold Machin - Modeller (1911 - 1999)

    Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911. He started work at the age of 14 as an apprentice china painter at the Minton Pottery, and during the Depression he learnt to sculpt at the Art School in Stoke-on-Trent. He later moved to Derby, and the Royal Academy in London. After spending the Second World War as a conscientious objector, he returned to modelling and sculpture, and created many notable ceramics which are now prized collectors' items. In 1946 he was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy, was appointed a Master of Sculpture from 1959 to 1966 and became the longest-serving member of the Academy. He was elected an Academician in 1956 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. From 1951 he was a tutor at the Royal College of Art, where he entered the culture that was to bring him his most celebrated commissions. He was probably best remembered for the designing of the new decimal coinage effigies of Queen Elizabeth in 1964 and 1967 and for the definitive issue of postage stamps in 1967.

Glossary

  • Cream-coloured earthenware

    Cream-coloured earthenware

    Cream-coloured earthenware was first produced in Staffordshire some time between 1730 and 1740. The principal ingredients were white-firing clay and ground flint, the flint being used to increase the whiteness and strength of the composition. The result was a durable body, varying in tone from buff to a deep cream colour, which required the application of a clear lead glaze and a second firing to make it impervious to liquids.

    Wedgwood carried out an enormous number of trials to perfect the cream-coloured earthenware body. He commenced work whilst still in partnership with Thomas Whieldon in Fenton, although his first really successful creamware was produced at his Ivy House Works after 1759. It is probable that creamware was amongst the first of Wedgwood's productions as an independent manufacturer.

    The approbation of Queen Charlotte in 1765 permitting Wedgwood to rename his creamware ‘Queen's ware', and style himself ‘Potter to Her Majesty' brought his earthenware to the notice of the population. On the 7th March 1774 Josiah wrote to Thomas Bentley that "The cream colour is of a superior class, & I trust has not yet run its race by many degrees..." The popularity of Wedgwood's Queen's ware throughout the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty-First Century suggests Josiah was correct.

     

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