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detail: The Fountain of Life


George Tinworth (November 5, 1843September 10, 1913) was a ceramic artist.

Born at 6 Milk Street, Walworth Commonmarker, South Londonmarker, Englandmarker, Tinworth was the son of a greengrocer turned wheelwright and the family suffered extreme poverty. He may have been aware of the Chartist meeting and subsequent enclosure of nearby Kennington Parkmarker (then a common) in 1852. Brought up to follow in his father's footsteps, he spent his spare time carving off-cuts and soon showed a precocious talent for art. At nineteen he pawned his overcoat to pay for a set of evening classes at the local Lambeth School of Artmarker in Kennington Park Roadmarker. In the same year of his life he created the magnificent 'The Mocking of Christ', which is now on show at the Cuming Museummarker on the Walworth Road, Southwarkmarker.

Although at the height of his fame he was visited regularly by royalty, leading members of church and state, and distinguished literary figures and the most prominent critics, he remained close to his humble origins in speech and thought.


From the Lambeth School of Artmarker (still going strong as the City and Guilds of London Art Schoolmarker) he went on to the Royal Academymarker art school in 1864, winning various medals for his work. After the Royal Academy he got a job at Royal Doulton, the famous Lambethmarker pottery manufacturer, in 1866. It was at this point that Doulton started producing art pottery with George Tinworth as their main designer. His father died in 1867 so he was left as the main supporter of his mother and family.



Works

At Doulton, he produced vases, jugs, humorous figures and animals and larger pieces. The Cuming Museummarker contains three examples of his life-sized clay heads and a terracotta scene entitled The Jews making bricks under Egyptian Taskmasters. This last was presented to the museum by Doulton and Co in 1914 as a memorial to Tinworth. They seem not to have recognised that it could be interpreted as an allegory of the exploitation of his fellow clayworkers.

Many of his pieces were shown at the Royal Academy where they were admired by John Ruskin, amongst others. The first to be exhibited there in the year he joined the school was a group of children fighting called "Peace and Wrath in Low Life". A large scale terracotta fountain, "The Fountain of Life", was donated to Kennington Parkmarker by Henry Doulton in 1872 (or 1869?). This was vandalised in the 1980s and The Friends of the Park are seeking funding for its restoration.

Other pieces by Tinworth are to be found in the Lambeth-based Museum of Garden Historymarker, adjacent to the main entrance of St Bede's College, Manchestermarker, in the panel above the entrance to the former Doulton Works in Black Prince Road, Lambethmarker, the Baptist Chapel in Wraysbury, in Truro Cathedralmarker, Cornwallmarker, and in St Mary's Church in Burton, Wiltshiremarker.

The Cuming Museum has Tinworth's major independent art project in storage. This is a four-foot high model of a project for an elaborate memorial to Southwark's connection with Shakespeare, made in 1904. Enough public donations were never achieved to realise it. Though this was Tinworth's most ambitious autonomous art project, he also made a number of complex figure compositions in relief, including The Release of Barabas and Saul attacking David.

The Southwark Local Studies Archive has his manuscript (and unpublished) autobiography.

Death

Tinworth died on 13 September 1913 and was buried in his mother's plot at West Norwood Cemeterymarker. Controversially the monument on the tomb was one of many destroyed by the London Borough of Lambethmarker, who then reused the grave for new burials in the 1980s. After a legal protest by a descendant, Lambeth placed a simple plaque commemorating the people buried in the plot.

Notes

  1. Who's Who 1916, xxiv
  2. Peter Rose, George Tinworth, CDN, 1982, p 11
  3. City and Guilds of London Art School web site
  4. The Doulton Lambeth Wares, Desmond Eyles and Louise Irvine: Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 2002, p49.
  5. Southwark Local Studies Library - 24 Hour Museum - official guide to UK museums, galleries, exhibitions and heritage at www.24hourmuseum.org.uk
  6. Friends of West Norwood Cemetery Newsletter 52


Reading

  • Rose, Peter. George Tinworth, Harriman-Judd Collection, Vol 1. CDN Corps, USA, 1982 (including a chronology of principal works compiled by Desmond Eyles).



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