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In 1878 successful Scottish Industrialist, Philanthropist, Politician, Collector and man of taste Thomas Russell commissioned a set of magnificent blue and white ceramic panels to be installed in the Billiard Room of his new home, Cleveden House, in Kelvinside, Glasgow, which was designed and built by architect John Gordon in 1877.

Coincidentally, in the year that Britain hosts the Olympic Games, these iconic original artworks have just been rediscovered and documented by Robert Young. They will be shown in public and offered for sale as a single collection for the first time since they were created, at Masterpiece London from 28th June – 4th July 2012.

Detailed research within the Copeland Spode archives and consultation with ceramic historians and technicians reveals that these important hand painted panels or 'slabs' are probably the largest known examples of this kind of ceramic art from their day. Each single earthenware panel (made from the finest Cornish china clay) would have been produced in a mould and fired and glazed a number of times. Their scale, the quality of the painting and the vivid clarity of the cobalt blue establish them as a remarkable artistic and technical achievement for any era.

The dimensions of each of the twelve panels are approximately 31 ¾" (80cm) high X 25 ¾" (65cm) wide. They are individually painted by two of Copeland's greatest artists, Robert John Abraham (1850-1925) and Lucien Besche (d.1901) and depict the following sports;
  Ice Hockey, Shot Put, Cricket, Running, Football, Polo, Tent Pegging, Fly Fishing, Hunting, Hare Coursing, Shooting and Stalking, seven of which are or have been Olympic sports.

In the 1870's several of the sports represented were just becoming established. For example, the First Scotland v England Football Match was played in Glasgow in 1872. Polo was introduced from India in the late 1860's and the first rules of the Game were drawn up at The Hurlingham Club in West London in 1875. Test Match Cricket between England and Australia began in 1877, the year Mr. Russell's house was completed. Thomas Russell was an enthusiast who clearly subscribed to the mid Victorian view of sport as a beneficial and uplifting force in society, the very ethos that Pierre De Coubertin would take on in his revival of the Olympic Games only a few years later.

Engagingly evocative of their era and remarkable for their iconic sporting imagery, provenance, unique nature, style and quality, these exceptional documentary sporting panels are to be exhibited in a specially designed and dedicated space, by Robert Young, on stand C12, at Masterpiece, London 2012.

Each individual panel is signed by the artist and bears the incised and impressed Copeland factory marks and some are also dated 1878. Please click here for a preview of all 12 panels.
Tel: +44 (0) 207 228 7847
Email: office@robertyoungantiques.com
68 Battersea Bridge Road
London, SW11 3AG