Design & Decoration S02 ep4 : Brian Haughton, Haughton Ceramics, [????]
Interview with Brian Haughton
Brian Haughton is one of the world's leading dealers in antique ceramics and organiser of six of the most important, influential and prestigious fine art and antiques fairs in the international art market. His gallery, Brian Haughton Gallery (founded 1964), specialising in 18th and early 19th century English and continental pottery and porcelain is conveniently located in the heart of London's West End at 15 Duke Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6DB, U.K. His other important role is as organiser of six premier international fine art and antique fairs held annually in New York, London and Dubai: Art and Antiques Dubai in February (Dubai), The International Asian Art Fair in March (New York), The International Fine Art Fair in May (New York), The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar in June (London), The International Art+Design Fair and the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show in October (New York). He is an exhibitor at The International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show (New York), The International Ceramics Fair and Seminar (London) and at Art and Antiques Dubai (Dubai).
Haughton: Porcelain is something that I have to feel and you get that gut feeling immediately from
it and that was why I started the Brian Haughton antiques porcelain business. And from that I
realised that my passion could be put across to other people and about 27 years ago we decided as
there was nothing large in that world in London, we were going to start the International Ceramics
Fair which is an event that brings in museum curators from all over the world to lecture each year
and to show the best.
Haughton: One of the most exciting pieces that I have at the moment is this amazing Micen
chafing dish, you know a chafing dish is an item that basically keeps food warm but of course this
is really a ceremonial piece and it was commissioned by Queen Mary Josefa who is the wife of
Frederick Augustus, King of Poland and it was for their 25th wedding anniversary. This is an
amazing piece because not only does it have all the coats of arms on the piece, but it also has
scenes all the way round which depict royal life. Now in the mid 18th Century, just coming in from
the east was the language of flowers and what that’s all about is that this was a private and quiet
way the aristocrats could show their love for each other or whatever feelings they had and on this
piece you have flowers showing the right for the King to rule, his primal love and then his real love
for the Queen etc. So all of these flowers believe it or not make up a story, this is a one off item
presented by the Queen to her husband the King and it went down through the family and then
finally ended up with the Dukes of Westminster.
Haughton: I started my life as an actor, I trained in London and I did West End shows, a lot of
tours around Britain repertoire and television and even a few movies. But when I was doing the
tours in England, you weren’t rehearsing every day as you would be in … and I had time to myself,
so in those days you could go all around the little villages, lots of antique shops and I found myself
buying wonderful bits of porcelain and sending it back to London.
Haughton: Chelsea was the premier factory in Britain like Micen was in Germany. This is a small
duck tureen and it is the only one now still in existence on its stand, there is one at the Ashmolean
Museum in Oxford but it has no stand. It is a little tureen which would have been used for pate and
when this was made and sold by the Chelsea factory in the 1750’s, 51 of them were done at that
time and of course all have disappeared and we’re talking about an incredibly rare item. As you
can see, I’ll hold it up here, and you can see how the stand it sits on itself is just as magical as the
little duck itself because all of these are river water reeds in England and each one is named and
Haughton: We actually started in a very, very small way before we moved into a big shop and I
found that all the better items that I was buying were sort of jumping out immediately. Now that
made one think only go for the best. So I made a conscious decision many years ago never to buy
anything unless it is the very best of its field.
Haughton: Here we have a Wooster teapot which was decorated in the Giles Italia, Giles was
probably the most important decorator working outside Wooster and this is now being talked about
as the most important piece of Wooster on the market today. It’s called the Harlequin Servers and
you have little signs all the way around showing love knots on the top for love, it would have been
made for a, probably a wedding and a wedding present. You have here the scene of the couple and
he’s smoking a pipe which is for fecundity there for love, procreation.
Haughton: In porcelain you can have a figure that has been designed by a sculptor and artist but if
the man that puts it together and he’s called a repairer, if he’s actually, it’s not he’s mending it,
he’s actually putting it together, and if he hasn’t actually put those arms and those things in the
right way, that figure can be sort of sagging so your eye then has to be very acute, very bright to be
able to realise that this one is so much better than the other, and that’s the one you pick.
Haughton: You’re talking about five or six really major brands, you’re talking about Micen,
Nimfemberg, Ludexberg, Chelsea, Wooster, Seve in France and Vansant, I mean these are the
major players and any really great objects from there are just very much sought after. These
particular ones, they are miners, Augustus Astrong made a lot of his money out of the mining the
gold and these were so important to him that he would have had these made and put on the table
and you can even see if you were to close up there, you even have the Micen mark on his belt,
which is quite extraordinary. This one is a musical miner, and they were really sort of showing off
what they could do as both in sculpture but also having it on their table and of course porcelain at
that time was known as white gold and there you are you have the thing about gold being quarried
and there Micen being the white gold.
Haughton: Having been involved very strongly in the theatre you are aware of, when you’re giving
a performance of when it’s the best performance you can give or if you’ve had a bad night and it’s
just not there. The same thing applies to looking at a piece of porcelain. If the chap was not really
working well that day you find it’s not, I think the eye is already trained on that.
Haughton: We’re looking here at three objects, there’s a pair of vases and these are Wooster and
what is rare about the two vases on the outside, these are what was called of the larger sizes and
there are very few of these now in existence there are smaller ones but nothing like in general the
fabulous painting that is done on the centre of these.
Haughton: When you are speaking to a curator who has been in the business at the VNA and those
days for 30-40 years you can learn a great deal and there was one amazing man called Tim Clarke.
Tim would come into my gallery and having looked at an item say Brian you know there’s a little
thing about that, do you realise where that’s come from and he would have gone back to all his
books, I mean they went back for tens of years because in fact he had all the knowledge and he’d
say I’ve done a further research, when you have people like the Tim Clarkes and the Dr Bernard
Watneys, both of them are now dead, I mean you cannot have better people who can influence
your life than they.
Haughton: In the centre there you have a yellow ground cabbage leaf jug as they call it. The
yellow ground at that time was probably the most difficult of all colours to do and what is fantastic
about it, they’ve got the yellow just perfectly there, it’s really sort of a lovely light yellow, but it’s
thick enough and bright enough, it hasn’t been over burnt in the kiln. Wonderful mask at the spout
and the large size as well so there again you’re talking about a great, great object made by Wooster
in the mid 18th Century.
Haughton: It was about 30 odd years ago that the Ceramics Fair in London as I say all the
academics are there lecturing, they come and they’re on the vetting committees because we
actually bring in as well, the vetting committees are made up of the top people, they look at every
object and I had on my stand and I bought the rarest Longton Hall owl, a Longton Hall is an
English factory, it was a tiny piece about that sort of size, and a couple of people on the vetting
committee said, no that’s not that, but they said we won’t make any decision until Dr Bernard
Watney comes along, and Bernard walks down and he said, oh what a marvellous Longton Hall
owl. I felt good.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Brian Haughton, Haughton Ceramics, ???