The Williamson Art Gallery is proud to be home to the largest public collection of Della Robbia pottery in the UK. Founded in 1894 in Birkenhead by Harold Rathbone, the ceramics factory was inspired by the principles of the Arts & Crafts movement. Rathbone moved in the circle of Pre-Raphaelite artists that surrounded William Morris and followed his ideas. He also appreciated Italian art and, having seen colourful and decorative pottery adorning churches and other buildings in Italy, wanted to being the same spirit to Britain.
The workshop was led by Conrad Dressler and Giovanni Carlo Manzoni, and trained local young people as labourers. The workshop produced brightly coloured architectural and decorative designs, with heir colours and materials inspired by Italian designs of the 15th and 16th centuries. Its work was sold by stories including Liberty and William Morris’ own company.
Although the studio itself was short-lived, closing in 1906, there has always been a considerable interest in the works it produced.