An impressive Arts and Crafts wall charger of exhibition quality and monumental proportions, by Maw & Co., decorated in mythological designs,
An impressive and very decorative object.
Maw & Co was established by George Maw and his brother Arthur in Worcester in 1850. In 1862 the company moved to Broseley, Shropshire to take advantage of the good-quality local clay and in 1883 they moved again to the Benthall Works in Jackfield, Shropshire. The company continued to prosper and by 1880 had grown to be the largest producer of ceramic tiles in the world. Maw & Co specialised on the earthenware floor tiles, mosaic tiles (from 1862), transfer printed tiles, hand painted picture tiles and relief tiles were also produced and included Art Nouveau and Art Deco geometric designs. In the 1890s Maw & Co started making high quality art pottery (the name they used for it) and employed artists, such as Lewis Foreman Day, William De Morgan and Walter Crane, to design both art pottery and tiles.
The stamp underside indicates that the piece was manufactured between 1862 and 1883 while the factory was still located in Brosley. While the company's main output at the time was tiles, it also produced one-off pieces like this for various exhibitions as a showcase of their craftsmanship and techniques. Thus, one of the first examples was made for 1851 Great Exhibition, and a further similar charger was made for 1889 Exposition Universelle (now in the Ironbridge Gorge Museum).
It seems likely that the present charger was made for one of such exhibitions, designed by a prominent artist of the era. William De Morgan or Walter Crane seem to be plausible candidates for such design. Crane realised a number of designs for Maw & Co. in 1870's–80's, including a set of lusterware decorated vessels in similar, antiquity-inspired style, for an Arts and Crafts exhibition (The Work of Walter Crane with Notes by the Artist. The Easter Art Annual for 1898: Extra Number of the “Art Journal”. London: J. S. Virtue, 1898.). The De Morgan Foundation owns a large Maw & Co. charger similarly decorated with vitruvian scroll borders. A vase by an anonymous artist is owned by the V&A Museum, London.
Art ceramics by Maw & Co. are rare. The record for the factory is £42,000 for a 12½in (31cm) high Mermaids vase sold by Law Fine Art in 2005.
Monumental Arts and Crafts Exhibition Wall Charger
Diameter: 36 in / 92 cm