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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Clarice Cliff Teacup Collection for Bonhams Auction

A fabulous collection of more than one hundred teacups by the renowned designer, Clarice Cliff will be offered in a sale of Design 1860-1945 on Tuesday 23 September 2008.

clarice-cliff.jpgThe collection, estimated at £25,000, is thought to be the largest collection of Clarice Cliff teacups to have come up for sale. Each tea cup will be estimated between £100-600. The collection is the result of one owner’s collecting over a period of approximately fifty years.

Natalie Evison, Bonhams specialist of Decorative Arts says “Clarice Cliff was a pioneer in her work, her fresh and innovative designs were well ahead of their time during the 1920s and 30s’. Cliff’s designs have steadily increased in value since her death in 1972. These highly sought after pieces are perhaps only set to grow in value so possibly the perfect time to buy.”

Clarice Cliff was born in 1899 in Staffordshire and in her teens she worked as a ceramic painter at the local factory A J Wilkinson. She studied at Tunstall School of Art, Staffordshire, and later at the Royal College of Art, Kensington. Clarice began her typical bright designs by decorating the firm’s surplus stock in 1927. At first her daring china was sold at a factory store, however the popularity of the pieces even then meant that the ‘Bizarre’ range was sold in Selfridges and other department stores all over Britain. The accessible and affordable pottery ranges were very popular, especially the floral designs such as ‘Crocus’, which were used daily in households all over Britain. Clarice designed over four hundred prints, however over ninety different designs are represented in this sale, such as ‘May Avenue’, with an estimate of £600. Interestingly, The May Avenue print was saidto be inspired by work of the modern artist, Modigliani.

Clarice was effectively given free reign in the design of her Bizarre ware, an unprecedented role for a woman at that time. During the 1930s in the factory’s heyday Clarice headed a team of over forty ceramic painters, who were nicknamed the ‘bizarre girls’, and in 1930 she was made Art Director of A. J.Wilkinson. In 1940 Clarice married her boss Colley Shorter.

Much of the designs show Clarice’s appreciation of contemporary art trends, as some have a distinctly modernist aspect both in their decoration and design. The angular shapes of the cup and triangular shaped handles of the teacups may appeal to the collector, as well as the visual link to the abstraction movements of Cubism and De Stijl in designs such as ‘Lightning’ or ‘Tennis’. These were initially seen as very radical to conservative tastes, consequently far less of these pieces were made which are now rare works that command higher prices at auction.

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