Reginald Johnson was Director of Design for Royal Doulton group, working mainly for the Paragon and Royal Albert brands. His Royal Albert bird plates from the 1980s are much appreciated by collectors and his commemorative designs for Paragon have celebrated many royal occasions over the years. For the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977, he modelled an impressive limited edition loving cup for Royal Doulton, a revival of Charles Noke’s commemorative designs from the 1930s. Johnson was the perfect choice for this commission, since, having joined Royal Doulton in 1923 at the age of fourteen, he became at sixteen the only student ever to receive direct tuition at the hands of Noke, the company’s famous Art Director. One of his first recorded pieces was the imposing Cathedral vase modelled by Noke and painted by Johnson.
In later life, following his retirement, Johnson continued to produce character figures in the style of Royal Doulton at his own studio. These were individually potted and hand-painted for his own signature collection. His subjects were varied and included characters from Arabian bazaars, a favourite subject of his erstwhile mentor Noke. Also inspired by Old Master painters, he modelled a portrait of Rembrandt as well as figures after famous paintings by Gainsborough.
A man of many talents, Johnson, who painted on canvas as well as ceramics, would buy in plates and vases, “in the white”, which he then decorated and fired in his studio, the subjects varying from orchids and roses in the style of David Dewsberry, to pastoral scenes many of which were derived from famous paintings.
Reg Johnson’s oeuvre, representative examples of which may today be viewed at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, has come to be greatly appreciated by connoisseurs since his death in 1993, and is increasingly difficult to source today.