Pairing Up, Part 7: Smith, Marks, & Wise

Last time round we picked out a number of designs from the “Extra Sheet” of Tile Catalogue SD 1705/MS1367 and it’s from that page that we begin our matchmaking adventure today. This time round, however, we’re concentrating on the work of named artists – resident or freelance – who’s designs appear throughout the volume.

First up, nestled at the bottom of the Extra Sheet, are faded images of four tiles from “Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, from drawings by H. S. Marks, R.A.”. We’d selected some of the original illustrations from this series for our “Welcome Home!” display at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in 2015/16 and therefore recognised these straight away – in that sense it was probably the easiest pairing up we’ve made so far!

A few pages later we spotted a distinctive style of tile design which reminded us of original artworks we’d seen in the Art & Design folios attributed to John Moyr Smith. Although there was no mention of Smith alongside these designs (or in the catalogue’s tile index for that matter) we were able to match examples from “Tennyson’s Idylls” and “Music” to illustrations in the collection, each bearing a signature confirming them as Moyr Smith creations.

Our final pairing up – for now at least – connects us back to previous instalments in the series, but in a slightly unexpected way. In Pairing Up, Part 5 we highlighted a not-quite-a-pair consisting of an artwork and transfer pull by William Wise, but what we didn’t show in that post was that the pull actually contained a second design from the same series. What a fantastic coincidence, then, when that design should pop up in the tile catalogue… albeit in a more roughly-sketched manner as you can see from the digital overlay below.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our most recent revival of this series – we’ll continue to keep our Pairing Up wits about us…