"Biarritz" shape cup and saucer with No. 5948 pattern


Clarice Cliff ( British, 1899 - 1972 )


A. J. Wilkinson Ltd. (Royal Staffordshire Pottery)

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General Description

The high modernist taste for streamlined shapes and spartan decoration was embodied in Clarice Cliff's designs of the 1930s. Her direct inspiration came from the work of French designer Jean Tetard, from whom Cliff took the idea for the very successful Stamford shape around 1930. In 1933 Cliff introduced another Tetard adaptation, the Biarritz shape, with its distinctive rectangular plates. Unfortunately, square plates with circular wells were extremely difficult to produce because the sides drooped if the plates were stacked conventionally in the kiln. Cliff devised a method of supporting the ware with sand and special kiln furniture, which solved the warping problem but meant that far fewer pieces could be fired at one time. Consequently, the Biarritz line was expensive to produce and very little of it sold in America; only those pieces with simple, conservative decoration, such as these banded patterns, found a market in the United States, unlike the brightly colored versions inspired by peasant folk art designs that were popular in England.

Adapted from

  • Charles L. Venable, Ellen P. Denker, Katherine C. Grier, Stephen G. Harrison, China and Glass in America, 1880-1980: From Tabletop to TV Tray (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 440, cat. 89.

  • DMA unpublished material, Label text [1996.187.1], transcribed 2017.