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Superb pair of yellow terracotta architectural cornel mounts of King and Queen masks attributed to John Marriott Blashfield (1811–1882)


Blashfield was Mintons representative in London and a partner in the firm of Wyatt, Parker & Co of Millwall, manufacturers of cement, scagliola and mosaic pavements, which he took over in 1846.

In 1843 he published a small booklet on mosaics he had designed and in 1843/45 he was responsible for the mosaic floor at the old Conservative Club in St James's Street, London.

He became interested in the manufacture of terracotta around 1839 when he engaged James Bubb on experimental terracotta work for model cottages at Canford, Dorset.

This appears to have led to his manufacturing terracotta ornamentation for buildings. In the early 1840s he supplied an extensive series of gothic terracotta mouldings for the English church at Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany. In the mid 1840s he started working with leading English sculptors, most notably John Bell and William Theed the Younger, for whom he produced terracotta versions of sculptures which were originally sculpted in marble or cast in iron.

Blashfield was well connected and patronised by some of the leading architects, particularly the Wyatts, Sydney Smirke and Charles Barry Jr.

Blashfield also derived many of his ideas for designs from the architects and illustrators Owen Jones and James Kellaway Colling. As result of the popularity of terracotta pieces at the Great Exhibition of 1851, he turned increasingly towards the manufacture of garden furniture, parapets and urns. It has been claimed that at about this time he purchased the moulds from Eleanor Coade’s Lambeth works that had been used to produce Coade Stone, but this has been disputed as Coade’s bankruptcy was some years before and few of his designs resemble those of Coade, except for the shape of some of the urns. The buff colour and texture of Blashfield’s Terracotta can resemble the appearance of Coade stone. Blashfield’s main works was in Millwall but he had showrooms at Praed Street adjacent to the Edgeware Road in Paddington. In the 1851 Balshfield was still describing himself as a “cement manufacturer’’ and at that time was employing 5 Clerks and 35 Men.

With the reconstruction of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham in 1854 Blashfield was awarded the contract, to cast a series of colossal terracotta statues representing Australia, California, Birmingham and Sheffield by John Bell for display in the sculpture gallery at Crystal Palace. The sculptures were later destroyed when the Crystal Palace was burnt down. To publicise his terracottas Blashfield published in 1855 An Account of the History and Manufacture of Ancient and Modern Terra Cotta and several catalogues, including A Catalogue of Five Hundred Articles in 1857. These terracottas included replicas of classical statuary and vases, such as the Niobe group in the Uffizi and the Borghese and Medici vases. Blashfield was proud of the fact that his products were hand-finished and taken from the best moulds.

Terracotta Stone King and Queen Corbals attributed to John Marriott Blashfield

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