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A Spooky Story

For Halloween we are highlighting the spookiest pieces in the new Fantastique exhibition. The Spook figure was modeled by Harry Tittensor for Royal Doulton in 1916. Spook, derived from Dutch, is a synonym for a ghost or an apparition. The Wiener collection must be haunted as the Spook appears in many different colors.

The Royal Doulton Spook appears to be inspired by a pen and ink drawing by Kay Nielsen for the Book of the Death, the poignant story of Pierrot’s doomed love affair. The Doulton figure has the same ghastly expression and skullcap as the Pierrot in the Shadows of the Night illustration. Nielsen’s book was never published but the black and white drawings were shown at the artist’s first exhibition in London in 1912 and they were featured in review articles. In his early years, Nielsen was heavily influenced by the work of Aubrey Beardsley, and he went on to become very successful during the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’. His work was a huge influence on the Fairyland Lustre designs by Daisy Makeig-Jones for Wedgwood.

The Spook figure is generally found in Royal Doulton’s Titanian glaze effect in ethereal shades of grey, blue and green. However, there are also bright yellow Spooks and devilish rouge flambé and Titanian combinations.  As well as the individual Spook, there is an even rarer model featuring two sinister Spooks huddled together. In more recent times, Royal Doulton artist Robert Tabbenor modeled an extra-large Spook which was decorated in a couple of colors but it did not go into production. There are two of these rare prototypes in the Fantastique exhibition at WMODA.

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Fantastique Opening