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SOLD TO A PRIVATE COLLECTION
AN EXTREMELY RARE GREY TERRACOTTA COMPTON POTTERY PANEL BY MARY SETON WATTS c1901.
A highly decorative and superb quality panel modelled in low relief by Mary Seton Watts and housed in its original oak (I think) inner frame. A central angel figure is depicted over a roundel supporting a labyrinth. To the left is a figure with a crook, cradling a lamb and to the right is a figure shielding a flame between their hands. Approx h: 340mm w: 810mm d: 60mm. Incised inscriptions along the top and bottom edges that read:
"Be thou a bright flame before me.
Be thou a guiding star above me.
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me.
Be thou a smooth path below me. To-day To-night and For Ever".
This panel was originally intended as a footboard for a single bed and is one of only three known sets of head and footboards in existence; of which one set is at The Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey. Each set is apparently a one-off with very slight differences between them and were modelled directly without the use of a mould (for comparison see “Mary Seton Watts - Unsung Heroine of the Art Nouveau” by Veronica Franklin Gould, p 40). Its practical size makes it ideal for hanging on the wall.
We have also since acquired the corresponding headboard!
Mary Seton Watts (nee Mary seton Fraser Tytler) (1849-1938), symbolist craftswoman, socialist and pioneer of the Celtic style much used at Liberty was the only individual designer/craftsperson ever mentioned by name by Liberty & Co, thereby breaking their traditional policy. Wife of the celebrated Victorian artist GF Watts. She created the amazing Art Nouveau Watts Chapel in Compton, Surrey, full of motifs derived from Celtic, Buddhist, Hindu, Egyptian, Persian and Assyrian folk traditions. An artist in her own right, her skills extended to Compton’s [terracotta] wares, book-binding, carpets, textiles and metalwork. A truly remarkable, gifted and inspired creative figure in the British Arts & Crafts Movement.