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Harold S. Rathbone
Date: British painter, 1858–1929
Biography: Harold Rathbone, son of a Liverpool merchant who was chairman of the Committee which oversaw the Walker Art Gallery. As such he accompanied his father on numerous visits to artist’s studios, and it is perhaps through these early excursions that he became acquainted with many of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. He offered to assist Ford Madox Brown on the Manchester Town Hall murals (begun 1879), and modeled for John of Gaunt in Wickliffe on Trial. In 1894 he founded a pottery in Birkenhead, just across the Mersey river from Liverpool, naming it after the famous renaissance family of terra cotta artists, the Della Robbias of Florence. The craftsman’s approach to production and the choice of medieval or early renaissance subject were all a result of the influence of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, of whom he was an enthusiastic supporter. The ceramic relief sculpture produced by Rathbone’s Della Robbia Pottery was meant to emulate Italian majolica of the Renaissance period.

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