Pairing Up, Part 4: Works in Progress

Part 4? Yes! Just like our Hizen Vase post a few weeks ago we’re jumping back into an old series to update you with our latest discoveries from within the Archive. Since we published our first three Pairing Up posts back in April (Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3) we’ve stumbled across even more connections between artworks and, as before, into other areas of the Minton company catalogue too.

Within the Art & Design folios a good memory – and a growing library of digitised artwork to look back through! – means we can find and pair up similar artworks at their different development stages to help see how ideas were refined towards final production-ready designs. These work-in-progress snapshots can include big leaps from initial sketches to full-colour designs, or small iterative changes which occur as an artwork is tweaked and finalised.

Due to their numbering within the catalogue we actually found the more complete, coloured versions of this set of tile designs (SD 1705/MS1817) before we stumbled upon the initial sketches (SD 1705/MS1827), but it’s clear how the two are linked (and which came first!). As in previous Pairing Up posts we’ve digitally aligned and overlaid the two pieces, and placed them in an interactive frame, so you can see just how closely they match.

Back in October 2015 we digitised a set of full colour dessert service centres based around bird subjects which we found outside of the normal Art & Design number sequence at SD 1705/MS3428. Nine months later – yes, our brains definitely worked hard to make this connection! – we came across what we assume to be the earlier ink drawing versions of the same subjects (this time within the Art & Design folios) at SD 1705/MS1727. You can see from the interactive overlay below just how closely related these two items are, and here’s another connection to throw into the mix as well: the full colour designs also include the names of the birds depicted in each scene which can be found as transfer pulls in SD 1705/MS3395-3396. Due to the interconnectedness of all things this is also the same location as the transfer pulls of Clovelly and Lynmouth we highlighted in our very first post in this series.

In our final example we’ve been able to pair up a series of basic illustrations made on a single sheet of paper found in SD1705/MS1917 to their reappearance as finely detailed, numbered designs in SD1705/MS1809. Although the artwork found in MS1917 is attributed to William Wise there’s no artist information to accompany the detailed designs in MS1809 – did Wise also draw these, or did someone else refine his original sketches?

Digital side-by-side showing the original sketch (left) and the numbered design (right).

Although at first glance these sets of illustrations look very similar there are actually too many differences between them to make a digital overlay possible. It’s not the only pairing which manages to appear more similar than it really is either; we’ll go into detail about another particularly good example of this in our next post.