Doulton House Frieze by Gilbert Bayes at The Victoria and Albert Museum

Welcome to “Art, Culture & Books” with me Anthony King. Today I’ll be taking you on a video and photographic tour of the 1939 Doulton House Frieze by Gilbert Bayes at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

Gilbert Bayes, a distinguished British sculptor of the early 20th century, was renowned for his ability to breathe life and emotion into his creations. He left an indelible mark on the artistic landscape with a career that traversed the Arts & Crafts era, the New Sculpture Movement, and the Art Deco period. Among Gilbert’s most renowned public creations is the Queen of Time clock, a fusion of bronze and ceramics adorning the facade of Selfridge’s department store on Oxford Street, London. In a previous video we looked at his bronze sculpture called ‘The Frog Princess’ which is at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, so make sure to take a look at that video if you haven’t seen it before.

In the late 1970s, as Doulton House in Lambeth faced demolition, Gilbert’s monumental frieze depicting the evolution of Pottery through the Ages was rescued. Originally part of Royal Doulton’s headquarters on the Albert Embankment, the building, designed by architect T. P. Bennett, stood as a distinctive example of Art Deco architecture in London. The modernist façade featured cream, black, and gold ceramic panels, becoming a recognizable landmark facing Lambeth Bridge and the Thames.

Doulton House, home to Gilbert Bayes’ celebrated 50-foot frieze, met its end in the late 1970s. The artistic masterpiece, symbolic of Art Deco excellence, was salvaged during the building’s dismantling. Royal Doulton, a renowned English ceramic manufacturer, later donated the frieze to the V & A in 1988. Now prominently displayed at the entrance to the Ceramics Gallery, the frieze’s relocation ensures its continued cultural significance.

Ironbridge Gorge Museum played a crucial role in preserving two friezes from Doulton House. Spearheaded by Paul Atterbury, former head of Royal Doulton’s historical department, the salvaging effort secured these cultural artifacts.

By Anthony King (c)