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Royal Doulton Flambe

Debbie Porter

Royal Doulton is famous for the lustrous red glaze known as flambe.  Inspired by Oriental glazes, Doulton’s flambe made it’s debut at the St Louis exhibition of 1904.  Flambe is a distinctive glaze which consists of a rich, deep-red glaze with streaks of purple and turquoise.  The effect results from a method of firing that incorporates copper oxides and other metals.  The Chinese of the Ming dynasty first discovered the method, probably during the reign of Wan-li (1573-1620).

The seemingly endless search for the secret of reproducing the vivid lustrous red glaze had preoccupied chemists and potters for generations.  Some flambe pots had been produced by ceramists, however, their methods lacked consistency and Doulton desperately sought to discover the technique.

By 1900 John Slater, the Art Director at the time and a young Charles Noke had succeeded in creating some good specimens, but the number of failures far outnumbered the successes.  When Cuthbert Bailey joined his father John Bailey at Nile Street, he became obsessed with discovering the ancient formula.  Around the same time Bernard Moore was employed as a consultant to Doulton to assist in the development of the flambe glaze.  Bernard Moore had already achieved moderate success in creating flambe glazes on a small scale.

Great secrecy has always surrounded the production of Doulton’s flambe and transmutation glazes and this has added to the mystique.  Noke once commented that the only person who knew the true secret was King George V, who when visiting the British Industries Fair in 1920, had surprised Noke with his understanding of the complexities of producing the glaze.

We have a number of fine examples of Royal Doulton flambe items in our June 10th Antiques, Collectables & Fine Art Sale.

Selling Royal Daulton at Auction

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