Monday, December 13, 2010

Magnolia grandiflora

This voluptuous flower-maiden dates from 1885. At first glance you might take her for the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but he had died three years earlier.  His influence is certainly strongly present in this ravishing early work by George Woolliscroft Rhead.

George Woolliscroft Rhead, Magnolia grandiflora
Etching printed in brown, 1885

George Woolliscroft Rhead was born in North Staffordshire in 1855, into a family with a long association with the Potteries. His father, George Woolliscroft Rhead senior, was a talented pottery designer, and the younger George Woolliscroft Rhead and three of his siblings - Frederick Alfred, Louis John, and Fanny - were all apprenticed at Mintons. When Mintons set up an art pottery studio in Kensington in 1871, under the directorship of W. S. Coleman, George Woolliscroft Rhead moved to London to work there. He then gained a scholarship to study at the South Kensington School of Art. He studied painting under the Pre-Raphaelite artist Ford Madox Brown, and etching under the French master Alphonse Legros. A painter, etcher, and designer of stained glass and ceramics, George Woolliscroft Rhead was a central figure of the English Arts and Crafts Movement that arose from the Pre-Raphaelites. Especially talented as an etcher, he was elected RE in 1883. He was married twice, to Louise in 1894, and to the Scottish artist Annie French in 1914. His brother Frederick Alfred Rhead remained in the Potteries, and four of his children, including the designer Charlotte Rhead, followed him into ceramics. Louis John Rhead moved to New York in 1883, becoming an American citizen; he is regarded as one of the most important artists of American Art Nouveau. George Woolliscroft Rhead remained in London, where he died in 1920.

9 comments:

Andrew Stone said...

Does yours have a signiture?
I have a copy of this Signed G.Rhead that I picked up years ago (one of the only etchings I own--she looks like my wife-- and always wondered if the signiture was his.
Would love to see it if you do.

TG said...

Beau et intéressant
Merci

Neil said...

Thanks, TG..

Andrew - Mine is not signed. I would suspect that your signature is probably genuine, assuming it looks like a signature, and not just someone identifying the artist.

Jane Librizzi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jane Librizzi said...

Revised comment: I just discovered some ceramics made by Frederick Hurten Rhead and Agnes Rhead for University City Pottery of Saint Louis, Missouri, and wondered if they were part of the same family. The Rheads seem to have been prolific at producing talented artists.

Neil said...

Jane - Sorry to have posted your first comment and then removed it, rather than read the second revised one first! I think Rhead is a rather uncommon surname, and I strongly suspect that your two ceramic Rheads may be descendants of Louis John Rhead - No doubt someone out there will let us know. The whole history of the Rheads as it has unfolded to me reminds me of A. S. Byatt's novel The Children's Book (which was based on the life of E. Nesbit, but has a lot in it about ceramics, and the early Fabians, and Suffragettes, and so on).

Jane Librizzi said...

If there's not already a book about the Rheads, someone ought to write one. I think George Steiner(?) - and maybe others - have written about books they thought someone should write.

Belinda Del Pesco said...

Neil, I'd not heard of George Woolliscroft Rhead before your post, and I love the Magnolia etching. Wish I could see it in person and up close to study his mark-making. Thanks so much for enlightening me about this talented printmaker.

Neil said...

Thanks, Belinda. It really is gorgeous. Although it's not quite the same as seeing the real thing, you can get a larger version of this or any picture on my blog by clicking on the image.