Unique Auctions Presents Collection of Martin Bros Inspired Grotesque Wally Bird Sculptures

Unique Auctions is delighted to present a captivating collection of Martin Bros inspired grotesque wally bird sculptures at their Antiques & Collectors Auction on Sunday, April 7th. These sculptures, each with its own distinctive character and backstory, pay homage to the pioneering work of the Martin Brothers, who bridged the Victorian era of ceramics with the nascent studio pottery movement of the 20th century in England.

Martin Bros Inspired Grotesque Wally Bird Sculptures
Martin Bros Inspired Grotesque Wally Bird Sculptures

A Glimpse into the Grotesque

The auction features models made by artists at Burslem Pottery, each with a unique narrative and intricate detailing that reflects the Martin Bros’ signature blend of whimsy and skill, including:

  • Ramsey the Chef: Crafted by Rob Tabbenor, Ramsey embodies the spirit of a culinary maestro. Clad in his chef’s hat and clutching a mixing bowl, this sculpture captures the essence of a dedicated chef at work, highlighting the Martin Bros’ ability to infuse everyday roles with a touch of the grotesque.
  • Olga: Once a celebrated classical ballerina, Olga’s sculpture represents the grace and beauty that captivated audiences in her youth. Her radiant smile and elegant posture serve as a lasting tribute to her illustrious career in dance, now inspiring her pupils and remaining admirers.
  • Duchess: As the dignified counterpart to the duke, the Duchess sculpture illustrates the toll of a life spent in the limelight. Her visage, marked by the lavish parties of her youth, tells a story of beauty and decadence, embodying the complex narratives often explored in the Martin Bros’ work.

The Legacy of the Martin Brothers

The Martin Brothers, comprised of Wallace, Walter, Charles, and Edwin, are revered for their contribution to the transition of Victorian decorative ceramics to modern studio pottery. Operating from the 1870s until the closure of their Southall pottery in 1923, their work is celebrated for its imaginative and often eccentric design, particularly the grotesque bird sculptures that have become synonymous with the Martin name.

Their mastery of the saltglaze technique on stoneware allowed for a unique expression of texture and colour, emphasizing the detailed impressions and incisions that defined their work. The subdued palette of browns, greens, greys, and blues is a hallmark of their pieces, contributing to the distinctive aesthetic that makes Martinware highly sought after by collectors.

The current market for Martin Bros original birds is booming with one Robert Wallace Martin for Martin Brothers bird selling for £170,000 at auction.

Auction Highlights

The upcoming auction at Unique Auctions not only offers a rare opportunity to own a piece inspired by the Martin Bros’ illustrious legacy but also shines a light on the enduring appeal of their artistry. Each sculpture in the collection represents a blend of narrative depth, technical prowess, and the whimsical charm that has endeared the Martin Brothers to generations of art lovers and collectors.

Top 5 Martin Brothers Pottery Prices at Auction
Martin Brothers Pottery History and the Iconic Grotesque Birds

About Unique Auctions:

Unique Auctions is a premier auction house based in Lincoln, UK, specializing in antiques, collectibles, and unique artifacts. With a reputation for curating exceptional items and a commitment to excellence, Unique Auctions provides a platform for the discovery and purchase of treasures from around the world.

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