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Major private tile collection donated to Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (12th September 2013)

A collection of over one thousand tiles and three hundred tile panels of outstanding quality and international significance has been donated by a private collector to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire. The collection includes examples by the most prestigious designers and manufacturers from the 1850s through to the 1960s, including Pugin, Dresser, Morris, De Morgan and Bawden.

John Scott has been collecting tiles for over 50 years, amassing what many regard to be the finest collection of tiles in private hands. He has generously donated it to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire, to go on display in a new purpose designed gallery at their Jackfield Tile Museum, with the aspiration that the site will house the world’s foremost collection of decorative tiles.

The Trust feels that it is one of the most important donations since its creation in 1967 due to the outstanding quantity, rarity and diversity of tiles and panels within the collection. Anna Brennand Chief Executive, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust commented; “We have been working with John over a number of years and are thrilled that he has now donated his tile collection to the Trust. John has a discerning eye for excellent design and has brought together a collection that reflects not only his taste but the changing tastes of a nation over the last 150 years.”

Many of the most highly regarded designers and producers are included in the collection, including some of the finest designs produced by Pugin, famed for the popularisation of the high gothic style and Christopher Dresser, one of the leaders of the Aesthetic Movement and perhaps best known for his tiles designed in the Anglo-Japanese style.

Possibly the star of the collection is a magnificent tile panel by William De Morgan featuring a stylised deer, from Battersea Old House. Made up of a total of 42 tiles and standing over a metre in height, this design is evocative of all that is associated of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s. The collection also contains many other De Morgan designs, including his signature galleons, animals and mythical beasts and many fine examples displaying the bright colours and ruby lustres that he is so well known for.

Twentieth century designers are also well represented with examples by Edward Bawden showing his characteristic dynamic style. One panel that stands out from all the others by way of its striking modernism, is John Piper’s Four Seasons; an unusual foray by the artist into the world of tile design.

The collection has now been relocated to Jackfield Tile Museum where it is currently being catalogued and photographed ahead of it going on display to the public for the first time in 2014 in a new specially designed gallery. Anna Brennand explains; “There is no more appropriate place to display this world class collection than Jackfield, home of two of the most important decorative tile manufacturers in the world Maw & Co and Craven Dunnill. By accepting these remarkable works of art into our permanent collection the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust now has one of the most comprehensive holdings of mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century British decorative tiles in the world. We are incredibly grateful to Mr Scott for his outstanding generosity.