William Greatbatch and the ‘Prodigal’ teapot

William-Greatbatch-Staffs-1770Can you imagine pouring your afternoon tea from one of these fascinating teapots? Here we have three delightful quaint teapots that form a little series decorated with scenes from the parable of the Prodigal Son. A parable that has been visually rendered in various forms over the centuries usually as a serious composition in heavy oils which makes these vibrant, slightly racy images from the 18th century so refreshing. These creamware teapots were made by William Greatbatch and can be found in The Twining Teapot Gallery at the Norwich Castle Museum.

William Greatbatch prodigal son
William Greatbatch creamware teapot and lid
circa 1770-82
This is a cylindrical form teapot with leaf-capped spout and ear-shaped strap handle, printed and enamelled on the front with The Prodigal Son Receives his Patrimony, the reverse with The Prodigal Son’s Departure, between moulded fretwork to the rims. Stands about 5 inches tall.

Creamware was popular through the 1760s to the 1780s as it was a more affordable earthenware version of fashionable, ‘high society’ porcelain. The development of creamware is a fine example of the mid-eighteenth-century technological drive improving pottery technique and glazing skills to achieve a commercial advantage. Creamware was successfully exported to Europe with English factory catalogues translated into German, Dutch, French and Spanish.

William Greatbatch (1735-1813) was one of the talented potters working with creamware. He was a prolific designer and maker of potters’ moulds during the second half of the 18th century. He ran his own pottery in Staffordshire and sometimes worked for Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795).┬áThese teapots show pictures that have been transfer-printed and coloured with enamels to decorate the thinly potted earthenware. The images are printed onto the teapot that has been covered with a creamy coloured lead glaze. Alternatively, light creamware items were simply embellished with a pithy verse.

Ralph Wedgwood
Ralph Wedgwood teapot with transfer-printed text in black.
1789-96
Probably made at Hill Pottery Burslem, Staffordshire.
Impressed WEDGWOOD & CO. mark 1789-96