The 7in (17cm) vessel, with impressed maker’s marks and an indistinct impressed facsimile signature, carried an estimate of £400-600 in the sale of Decorative Arts & Design at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on October 23. The buyer was a collector.
Unlike his more formal creations for the Minton factory, Dresser enjoyed free rein when creating designs for something like 1000 pots while working as art superintendent at Linthorpe from 1879-82.
He drew on a wide range of influences including Minoan, Cycladic, pre-Columbian, Chinese and Japanese ceramics as well as locally found prehistoric and Bronze Age artefacts.
This particular vessel and a similar ashtray of a spread-eagled male with the same unglazed head are based on a carved wood Fijian libation vessel in the British Museum.
While Dresser’s designs for Linthorpe were intended for mass production, some were made in small numbers.
Although well-known from Michael Whiteway’s Dresser monograph, this form rarely appears for sale. However, a yellow-glazed model sold at €5500 (£5000) as part of Christie’s dedicated Japonism sale in Paris in 2018 while an (unsigned) flask with a professionally restored spout went unsold on four outings at Woolley & Wallis in 2012 with an estimate of £1200-1800.
Lyon & Turnbull specialist John Mackie said last week’s price, which was comfortably a new high for the pottery, “follows a spate of strong bids for Dresser Linthorpe that suggest new interest in a hitherto erratic market”.