John Pearson is the most famous metalworker of the late 19th and early 20th century English Arts & Crafts movement. This website is a personal view of his life and work. It is intended primarily as an information site but we are also collectors so, if you have a good piece you would like to showcase on the site or to sell, please get in touch.
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I just sold a nice Arts and Crafts charger on eBay which was similar to John Pearson in some ways but very different in may others (it was, and is, a bit of a mystery since I do not know who did it.) It resembles, in design, some pieces by ‘Mrs Waterhouse’ and by Yattendon but the birds are also quite ‘Guild of Handicraft’-ish. It has a mark – Kenyon – to the back but I am not convinced this is necessarily the maker (and is not someone I have ever heard of). So, an interesting mystery!
John Pearson was born in Lambeth in 1859. After a short stint at the De Morgan factory, in the early 1880s he learned repousse work.
In 1888, with Charles Ashbee and John Williams (and others), he founded the Guild of Handicraft. It seems that he taught John Williams the art of repousse work, but also executed Ashbee designs.
In 1892 he left the Guild and travelled to Newlyn where he trained the local fishing boys. I don’t think he stayed long (a year or less) and he shortly returned to London … Read more
John Pearson also produced pieces in brass, particularly in the early period and at the Guild of Handicraft.
In 1893/1893 he also seemed to have toyed with repousse silver. These are rare and generally of a smaller size. … Read more
John Pearson was not himself a potter but typically decorated pottery blanks from other factories, signing them with a characteristic JP mark.
The palette is typically blue/green but he also used silver and gold in a free hand style.
His style contains some characteristic features of De Morgan pottery (and Arts and Crafts motifs more generally such as the galleon and tree of life) but is typically more free and characterful (in my view), for example humorous lizards, dragons etc. … Read more
I am particularly interested in building up a catalogue of pieces bearing pattern numbers.
These seem to range from the 200s in the late 1880s until the mid 3000s in the early 1900s. Common sense would suggest that they are numbered sequentially - but I have seen two clearly very different pieces with the same pattern number (possibly an error?).
Much, if not most of John Pearson's work, does not have a pattern number. In particular, some of the early pieces - when John Pearson was at the Guild - may not have pattern numbers (or signatures) because of the socialist tendency of the Guild not to identify particular craftsmen (a rule which John Pearson did not respect).