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Pilkington Lewis Day Majolica Tile

• Condition: Near perfect
• Price: £340 (approx. $436)
• Stock number: 06892

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Just some slight roughness to the very tip of the rim, surface is perfect and brilliantly glazed.


Style: Conventionalised floral
• Technique: Embossed majolica
• Designer: Lewis Foreman Day
• Maker: Pilkingtons
• Dimensions: 6" x 6"
• Date: 1895 (registered)


This is a rare tile, the first recorded design for Pilkingtons by Lewis Day registered in 1895. A bold floral design well asymmetric that sits well on and fills the tile. This and two other designs by Day registered at the same time oft described as art nouveau but he famously loathed the style, this a true to nature design.

Adding to the rarity is that the initials LFD are hidden in the background, they would not be hidden if the background had been coloured but I have yet to see this design with a coloured ground. I suspect it was just a few early examples that have the initials and they were subsequently removed for the design is found without them. Manufacturers only add artists' identification to wares if they believe it will increase the marketability for an artist's identification dilutes the brand. Also if noted artists are always acknowledged when there is no identification consumers know it is a design by a not famous name depressing its saleability. Once an artist is associated with a manufacturer consumers will speculate that the designs are by someone famous whereas they are likely by an unknown in-house designer at the company, such speculation carries on through the ages as we well known from 'optimistic' attributions by dealers, auctioneers and collectors alike.

When trying to understand conventionalised floral consider still-lifes which are a group of natural objects arranged in a manner to the artist's taste, conventionalised designs are similar but of a single flower or plant arranged by the designer to adorn the object being decorated. Too literal adherence to nature can produce unbalanced designs as with the Tulip Tree flower also by Day and registered at the same time as this. In the book on Day it is shown in the wrong orientation around such is the difficulty to grasp the concept, it is very often described as art nouveau yet predates mass-produced products in the style and is barely even conventionalised being almost photorealistic of the actual flower in nature.

One can just make out the initials in this image, with the tile in hand one can tilt it to catch the light and see more clearly.

Verso clear of adhesive but a little grubby, embossed P in opposing corners and design registration number, pattern number in pencil - a boon for the enthusiastic Pilkington collector building a list of patterns and dates.


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