Parian Bust of Shakespeare
c. 1865-1880. 18 inch Parian bust atop 3 1/2 inch socle, previously joined by brass nut and bolt (now detached and in need of repair). Faint hairline fissure from upper button of shirt across shoulder and around to rear. Mild soiling typical of Parian, otherwise an exceptional example notable for its exquisite detail and translucence.
This superb Parian bust of the Bard of Avon is exact in almost all aspects to that from Robinson & Leadbeater pictured in the key reference, The Parian Phenomenon, differing only in size, the slight tilt of Shakespeare's head and subtle facial features. The blouse, buttons, tassels, collar, drape of the cloak, lapel, and sleeve at the left shoulder are identical in all detail to the ten and a half inch Shakespeare bust produced by Robinson & Leadbeater c. 1880. Further, though the smaller sizes for R&L busts were modeled with integral socles, the larger sizes possessed separate socles, as here. Most significant, however, is that Robinson & Leadbeater's designs were original and exclusive to them alone. All evidence considered, we can confidently state definitive attribution to this, amongst the small handful of Parian producers considered to be the finest.
"One of the few potteries to concentrate entirely on the production of high quality Parian, the partnership of Robinson & Leadbeater was established in the early 1860s in Hanley [U.K.]…The company quickly became one of the largest and most ambitious manufacturers of Parian, with a large share of the Home market and an extensive export trade in the United States [whence this example]" (Parian Phenomenon). This bust is unmarked, typical of Robinson & Leadbeater's early wares, but as Godden notes (British Pottery & Porcelain Marks) of those produced after the mid-1870's, the R&L mark was found only on figures and groups.
A most attractive Robinson & Leadbeater piece indeed, and rare in this size.
Cf. The Parian Phenomenon, fig. 747. (Item #3780)