28/05/2014 Ceramics & Glass
The porcelain manufacturers Royal Worcester have had a glorious history dating all the way back to 1751.
In 1788, George III granted a Royal warrant to the company and it became known as 'The Royal Porcelain Works'. The Prince of Wales added to it in 1807 with an additional Royal warrant, as did the the Princess of Wales in 1808. Even today, they remain in service to the crown by appointment of Queen Elizabeth II.
It was this highly esteemed company that Harry Davis begun work for in 1898, at the tender age of just thirteen. It should not come as any great surprise, as Harry's father worked for the factory as a figure maker and his Grandfather, Josiah Davis, was one of the foremost gilders ever to have worked at Royal Worcester. At the time, all three generations worked together at the factory.
Harry was granted a formal seven year apprenticeship in 1899. So having started with menial tasks such as sweeping floors, he was now receiving tutelage, under the landscape painter Ted Salter and particularly from his grandfather. Josiah taught him to draw and paint landscapes in the manner of the leading Barbizon school painter, Jean-Baptiste Corot.
It was Ted Salter that encouraged Harry in country pursuits. Harry took up fishing and became a member of the Royal Worcester Fishing Club. In fact, Ted and Harry became great friends, so it was a great shock to Harry when his tutor was killed in a cycling accident in 1902. When we see the great works of Harry Davis, we owe a great thanks to the guiding hand of Ted Salter.
It was only in 1900 that the company allowed painters to sign their works, and so it was fortuitous for Harry, as he went on to prove himself as an artist of distinction and did not dwell in obscurity as his predecessors must have done. Harry became renowned for country subjects such as Sheep, Cows, landscapes and fish. All finished with complete perfection.
Among his great commissions, was the £7,000 service for the Maharaja of Nawanagar (1923). The presentation vase gifted to cricketer Don Bradman for his three double centuries for Worcester (1938). A jardiniere presented to Winston Churchill (1950). He was a confirmed favourite of the Royal Family, and painted the figure of Princess Elizabeth on her favorite horse Tommy, by Doris Lindner (1949).
Harry was awarded the British Empire Medal in Queen Elizabeths fist honours list in 1952. He went on working at Royal Worcester until 1969, when he was eighty three! He died the following year.
It is a pleasure to see the work of Harry Davis being sold at McTear's this month. His attention to detail and his love for the countryside is plain to see. As well as a influences of Jean-Baptiste Corot. Worcester pieces by Harry Davis are often equally spectacular...