Ealing Council’s Pitzhanger Manor-House has been forced to close its exhibition of Martin Brothers pottery following a burglary – the second to hit the collection in two years.
Professional thieves broke into the house at approximately
2.50am on Thursday, March 22. They entered through a window located
behind the 9ft (2.74m) three-tier Martinware fountain - one of the
PM Gallery's best-known exhibits - that allowed them to gain access
to the Martinware room. The alarm log shows the thieves were in and
out of the Martinware room within six minutes, making off with 24
items with an estimated value of £240,000.
A full inventory of the stolen items is available. It includes
nine of the studio's well-known bird jars (including a rare double
bird group dated 6-1902), four face jugs and a number of small
white clay sculptures including an imp musician, a bust, a
full-length model of Samuel Pickwick and a chess piece modeled as a
queen sitting on a throne. The upper tier of the Martinware
fountain, that happens to be a replica, was also stolen.
"Pitzhanger Manor-House has an extensive alarm system but it is
clear that the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for,"
said Peter Lipman, director of cultural services at Ealing.
"Because of the importance of this collection [courtesy of the 1986
Hull Grundy bequest, Ealing Borough Council owns the largest public
collection of Martinware numbering 342 pieces] the Martinware room
is now temporarily closed and the remaining pottery is being stored
off-site and will not be shown until the room is made secure.
Because the house [former west London home of the architect John
Soane] is a listed building, this may take some time."
Rising prices and awareness of Martinware has made it more
appealing to professional thieves. Ealing Council lost 16 pieces of
Martin Brothers pottery from Southall Library in May 2005 when
professional thieves broke through a double-glazed window. Among
the pieces stolen in that raid were three bird jars, a grotesque
spoon warmer in the form of a dragon and three face jugs. They have
not been recovered.
Anyone with any information on the theft, please contact Ealing
Borough Police on 020 8810 1212 quoting Crime Reference number
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