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Minton Moyr Smith Shakespeare Sepia Multicolour Tile

Condition: Near perfect
Price: £140 (approx $236)
Stock number: 05752

UK Special Delivery £150

EU Priority £154

US and World Priority £158

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Minute rim chips, light mark near top left corner a printing flaw, surface very near perfect.


• Style: Pictorial classical literature
• Technique:
Polychrome print
• Maker:
• Dimensions: 6" x 6"
• Date:
1885 (circa)


A tile from the popular Shakespeare series designed by John Moyr Smith for Mintons China Works in fine sepia multicolour Reynold's Patent print. This is the least often found standard colourway for the series rather ironically called 'sepia monochrome' in the Mintons catalogue, the other multicolour examples of the series 'grey monochrome' are much less frequently found than the basic prints but still ten times as often as the sepia.

I find it amazing that these are so rare, easily the best colourway to my mind, the grey multicolour is more common and still good but the sepia multicolour is the only really great of the colourways. This group of six the first we have found in the kind of great condition that we like for three years, and then a few months later, in the manner of how antiques can turn up, we found three others which are now in cleaning.

The four colour printing has much more detail than the single colour prints, not only is there more shading throughout but there are also additional patterns in the fabrics and textures on stone & wood etc. This colourway shows the detail to its finest in the most natural and pleasing colours, the multicolour prints are also almost always crisper than the simple transfer prints. Grey does look good in cast iron fireplaces where many were fitted, sepia/brown easily best next to timber especially oak, great for furniture and inside mantels.

Versos perfectly clean, embossed Mintons etc, also embossed R IY, new to me. This suggests to me that the biscuit was so marked especially for a particular retailer and as these were bought in Rochester, NY, possibly an american retailer.

The Shakespeare series was designed by John Moyr Smith for Mintons China Works around 1872. Understandably the most popular of all Victorian pictorial series being illustrations of the greatest playwright's work, also probably the largest with twenty four pictures (only eighteen were done in multicolour).

John Moyr Smith was perhaps the most popular artist of the Victorian era, certainly on tile. More of his work is seen on tiles than any other (known) artist but tiles were but one string to his bow, his work was seen in books and on greetings cards amongst other media but in his day he was widely known for illustrations and cartoons in 'Punch', the long lived satirical magazine. He was also an accomplished architect and designer in other fields.

Verso very clean, unmarked grid grip pattern.


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