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Grigsby, Leslie B. (Leslie Brown) / The Longridge collection of English slipware and delftware. Delftware
Volume 2 (2000)

Other tiles, plaques, and a wall niche,   pp. [465]-[488]


Page 486

 
               D  Other Tiles, Plaques, 
DELFTWARE andaWallNiche 
D434. RECESS TILE or WALL 
NICHE 
Probably Bristol 
1750-1770 
H.: 10 114" (26 cm); 
W. (left-right): 4 7/8" (12.4 cm); 
D.: 2 3/4" (7 cm) 
BODY CLAY: Fine-grained reddish 
buff. 
TIN GLAZE: Slightly bluish white. 
Overall, excluding edges and large 
patch on center of reverse. 
SHAPE: Molded. 
DECORATION: Painted. Venus and 
Cupid on pedestal under scallop shell 
and clouds with birds. Borders com- 
posed of niche and edge outlines and 
flowers set against trelliswork. 
Published: Lipski, Bristol Tiles, p. 3, no. 6. 
Ex coils.: W Elliot (sticker "BRISTOL 
DELFTIMade at R. FRANKS'SIDelft Pottery, 
RedclifflBo[n]ks, Bristol.iCirco 1765. WE. 
[W Elliot]"); L. L. Lipski (sticker "L. L. 
L./Collection No. 77"). J P Kasseboum (sticker 
'JOHN PHILIP KASSEBAUM"). 
Although certainly not common, several English wall niches, or recess tiles,
of much the same form as this one do survive. Figures depicted in the niches
nearly always are classical deities, though a few with eighteenth-century
Euro- 
pean figures and at least one depicting a vase of flowers also are recorded.
The 
classical figures, at least, are likely to derive from published images.
The Long- 
ridge figure group reappears with only slight differences in details on several
blue and white examples: two show a shell above the figures and have cherub
corners in different borders with tiny scrolls and flowers. The border of
another 
(shell-less) example combines a different pattern of scrolls with flowers
and trel- 
lised panels, and a third shows the same figure group in reverse and painted
in 
a different style within a more crudely drawn border., Another Venus and
Cupid 
recess tile with figures much like those shown here is painted in polychrome
with "Fazackerley-type" colors forming floral border motifs.' 
    The Longridge recess tile retains traces of plaster on the edges, indicating
that it once was in an architectural setting. Some other recess tiles are
mount- 
ed among flat tiles in curved-walled niches with usually built-in washbasins,
and as it appears that all recorded recess tiles are, in fact, the equivalent
of two 
tiles in height and one tile in width, such settings must have been typical
for 
them.4 It has been suggested that recess tiles in such settings held the
usually 
ball-shaped soap (although this function probably would have required small
dishes) or candlesticks (although no evidence of the expected damage from
can- 
dle flames appears to have been found). Alternatively, the tiny alcoves with
their 
usual depictions of classical figures on plinths may have been purely decorative
imitations of large, three-dimensional constructions created for elegant
gardens 
or homes. Two (or possibly three) washbasin recesses with curved walls lined
with combinations of recess and flat tiles are thought to have originally
been 
installed in Bristol. The original location of another is unknown, and one
remains in its original setting in a house in Bath. A 1735 Hogarth print,
A Rake's 
Progress, plate 6, that may depict a tile-lined washbasin recess indicates
that 
there also was a London market for such architectural features. 
1. Horne, Tiles, no. 666 (contemporary[?] 
woman, seated with wineglass, derived from 
version [no. 6651 depicting Ceres); no. 673 (con- 
temporary, standing man in niche with corners 
much like those on Chinese-figured Longridge 
tiles Init. 1)427]); no. 664 (vase-of-flowers tile, 
made without a base). Other classical subjects 
are shown ibid., nos. 667-670; Archer, V&A, col. 
pl. 253, no. N. 7; Sotheby's (L), Jellinek sale, May 
9-10, 1996, lot 186. 
2. For cherub-cornered examples, see Austin, 
Delft, no. 660; Ray, Warren, pl. 92, no. 191; 
Phillips (L), March 6, 1996, lot 145. Home, Tiles, 
no. 671, with scrolls, flowers, and trellised panels, 
citing "two similar recess tiles ... with different 
borders  ,at the Red Lodge, Bristol"; no. 672, 
reversed figure group with cruder (typically asso- 
ciated with Liverpool) border (see Ray, Tiles, pls. 3, 
4, 6, 8, fbr Liverpool biblical tiles with much the 
same border and pl. 19 for other subjects on Liv- 
erpool and Bristol tiles). For a washbasin niche 
with flat tiles, reputedly from a house in Bristol 
but with tiles attributed to Liverpool, see Horne, 
Collection, pt. 19, no. 561. 
3. Horne, Tiles, p. 113. See van Dam, Gedateerd 
Delfts, no. 40, for a 1740 dated lobed Dutch tile 
depicting Venus and Cupid and incorporating in 
its border trelliswork and some flowers much 
like those on the Longridge recess tile. 
4. Batty Langly, author of The London Prices of 
Bricklayer's Materials and Works (1748), probably 
described the use of decorated flat tiles when he 
wrote: "THESE Kinds of Tiles have been of great 
Use for to ornament the Covings of Chimneys, 
Sides of Cold Baths, etc., and such as are well- 
painted, and neatly set, are very beautiful" (Ray, 
Tiles, p. 58 n. 12, citing p. 324 from Langley's 
book). Also Home comments 0anuary 1999). 
5. Archer, V&A, col. pl. 253, no. N.7 (tiled wash- 
basin niche); p. 343, fig. 46 (Hogarth engraving 
detail). See Horne, Tiles, nos. 668-669, for two 
recess tiles (Bristol Museum collection) that 
were removed from a house in Bristol. See Ray, 
Tiles, p. 32, fig 14, p. 58, for tiled niche with 
Ceres recess tile set among Liverpool flat tiles 
with grapes (Home, Tiles, no. 665, depicts the 
tile after it was removed from the niche.) 
486 The Longridge Collection 


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