A collection of over one thousand tiles and three hundred tile panels of outstanding quality and international significance has been donated by a private collector, John Scott, to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire. The collection includes examples by the most prestigious designers and manufacturers from the 1850s through to the 1960s, including Pugin, Dresser, Morris, De Morgan and Bawden. They will go on display in 2014 in a new purpose designed gallery at the Jackfield Tile Museum, with the aspiration that the site will house the world’s foremost collection of decorative tiles.
The Trust feels that it is one of the most important donations since its creation in 1967 due to the outstanding quantity, rarity and diversity of tiles and panels within the collection. It includes some of the finest designs produced by Augustus Pugin, famed for the popularisation of the high gothic style, and Christopher Dresser, one of the leaders of the Aesthetic Movement and perhaps best known for his tiles designed in the Anglo-Japanese style.
Possibly the star of the collection is a magnificent tile panel by William De Morgan, featuring a stylised deer, from Battersea Old House. Made up of a total of 42 tiles and standing over a metre in height, this design is evocative of all that is associated of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s. The collection also contains many other De Morgan designs, including his signature galleons, animals and mythical beasts and many fine examples displaying the bright colours and ruby lustres that he is so well known for.
Twentieth century designers are also well represented with examples by Edward Bawden showing his characteristic dynamic style. One panel that stands out from all the others by way of its striking modernism, is John Piper’s Four Seasons; an unusual foray by the artist into the world of tile design.