Longton connection: Pickman and Seville

by staffordshirepotteries

[This article is a rough draft and could be updated]

Charles Pickman, founder of La Cartuja de Sevilla Pottery

Charles Pickman, founder of La Cartuja Pottery. Painted by Cortés in 1883

Charles Pickman, founder of La Cartuja Pottery. Painted by Cortés in 1883

Charles Pickman Jones, was born in London in 1808. In 1822 arrived in Cadiz to continue with the family business started by his father Richard Pickman of Wallingford, a glass and Staffordshire china trader based in London and Liverpool. Those products were successful in the Spanish market of the time; particularly, we think, thanks to the development of the cheaper ironstone tableware and other mass market products. His half brother, William Pickman Hicks, was also set up in Cadiz, but had died the year before. Shortly after his arrival, Charles Pickman moved to Seville and opened a shop in Gallegos Street.

Due to his success in the market, a few years later he decided to set up his own pottery factory in the city. In 1837 he set up a company with Guillermo Aponte, his brother-in-law. He took advantage of the Mendizabal Government general confiscation of ecclesiastical properties (1836), thus in 1838 he rented and in 1840 bought the old Carthusian Monastery in Seville (“La Cartuja”), on the right bank of the river Guadalquivir. He began the refurbishment to transform the monastery into a modern factory. The factory was officially founded in 1841. This year Pickman set up a company with Juan Pablo Echecopar.

The first Technical Director was Benjamin Harris, his brother-in-law[1]. He was a potter from Longton, one of the “Six Towns” of “The Potteries”, now the city of Stoke-on-Trent. From that place he sent letters with technical information about the potbank plan and bottle oven design. Two letters survive in the factory papers[2], one dated 21st June 1838 with a bottle oven plan, and another dated 8th January 1839, shared with William Turner and including a pottery factory plan.

La Cartuja de Sevilla

La Cartuja de Sevilla, set up in the old Carthusian Monastery. Lithograph by Wasserman showing the visit of the Queen Elizabeth II of Spain in 1862. Image: Focus-Abengoa Collection, Seville.

During the first years Pickman also needed English workers, some of them from North Staffordshire, to teach Andalusian workers.

The contacts included the importation of machines for setting up an English style industrial pottery, and continued with the importation of some raw materials, some finished products and copperplates for his own designs. It is known that some of these copperplates had the stamp “Goodwin & Harris” of Staffordshire.

La Cartuja made mass market and made-to-order earthenware with the type names “semi-china”, “opaque china” “stoneware”, “flint-ware” (cheaper) or “volcanic china”, maybe related to “ironstone” ware. They also made tiles with Moorish motifs and other objects for business and industry. This pottery won several prizes in universal and local expositions, like London 1862 International Exhibition or Paris 1878 Exposition Universelle.

Some examples of La Cartuja pottery in the 19th Century

Some examples of pottery made in La Cartuja in the 19th Century. Taken from Maestre’s book La Cartuja de Sevilla (1993).

La Cartuja factory is still working, although in a modern factory near Seville. The old factory was restored for the Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92). Nowadays the building houses a modern art gallery and a restoration researching center.

La Cartuja de Sevilla now. Image by Stefano - Stark. https://www.flickr.com/photos/scaccia/13182807/

La Cartuja de Sevilla now. Image by Stefano – Stark. https://www.flickr.com/photos/scaccia/13182807/

[1] Benjamin Harris got married to Elizabeth Pickman. They had at least three children:
– Benjamin Harris (Bapt. 20 March 1831 in St John’s, Longton).
– Elizabeth Susannah Harris (Bapt. 31 March 1833 in St John’s, Longton). She got married to the English engraver Richard Adam, born about 1828. Adam worked in La Cartuja de Sevilla for many years. He could return to England in the 1880s, but he continued receiving copperplate commissions from La Cartuja.
– Charles Pickman Harris (Bapt. 30 April 1837 in St John’s, Longton).
(Go Back)

[2] Now housed at Seville Provincial Historical Archives: Archivo Histórico Provincial de Sevilla (AHPSe). Sec.: La Cartuja de Sevilla. Sig.: C-1920/4. (Go Back)


Find out more:

– MAESTRE, Beatriz. La Cartuja de Sevilla. Fábrica de cerámica. Sevilla: Pickman, 1993.