The nameLeslie Harradine is synonymous with the charm and elegance of Royal Doulton figurines. A free spirit, his creative journey is one of sheer determination and an unyielding passion for sculpting. This article celebrates the man, the artist, and his exceptional legacy that continues to captivate the hearts of collectors around the world.
A holiday snap of Leslie Harradine taken by a family friend
Origins of a Sculpting Prodigy
Born Arthur Leslie Harradine in 1887 in Lambeth, London, Leslie's destiny was shaped by his proximity to the Royal Doulton Lambeth studios. An apprenticeship at the tender age of 15 led him under the mentorship of George Tinworth at the Royal Doulton Studio and later at the Camberwell School of Arts. His early years saw him working on vase designs, but his heart yearned for something different—free-standing figures of his own design.
Independence and Adventure
Leslie's quest for artistic independence led him to Canada. Despite the struggles of managing a 4,000-acre farm, his unwavering spirit was persistent. He utilized the clay found on the farm, painting and modeling during spare moments, continuing to follow his artistic pursuits.
Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs
The onset of the Great War brought Leslie back to England, where a period of recovery introduced him to his future wife, Edith Denton. Despite the tumultuous circumstances, Leslie continued to sculpt, and his dedication led to his freelance work withRoyal Doulton. His first figure, "Contentment" (HN395), marked the beginning of a remarkable career that lasted almost four decades.
In his twilight years, Leslie Harradine is pictured at ease, with bare figurines noticeable in a cabinet behind his wife, Molly (photo credit: Seaway China)
A Legacy in Clay
Leslie's work was cherished, from the "Beggars Opera" figures to the popular Dickens characters and London street sellers. His designs, such as "The Flower Sellers Children" "The Balloon Seller" and "The Bather" displayed astonishing variety. Perhaps one of his most recognizable pieces is "Top o’ the hill" based on a picture by Molly Benatar, introduced in 1937.
Designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued 1938-1975. Measures 7.25" in height.
This wonderful piece measures 7.75" in height. Issued from 1924-1949. During the early 1920's several quite new styles of figures were introduced.
Sunshine Girl HN4245
Designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued in 2000 in a limited edition of 2000. Part of the Bathers Collection.
Flower Seller's Children HN1342
Designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued 1929-1993.Measures 8" in height. This piece is in excellent condition with no chips, no cracks and no restorations.
Celebrating the Innocence of Childhood
Leslie's love for children was evident in his enchanting child studies. Pieces like "Rocking Horse" the "Nursery Rhymes" series, and his charming figures of young boys created during the 1920s-1950s, beautifully captured the innocence and joy of childhood.
Curly Locks As Is HN2049
Designed by Leslie Harradine. Issued 1949-1953. Part of the First Nursery Rhymes Series.
Personal Struggles and Achievements
Despite personal losses and trials, including the death of his first wife and the challenges of remarrying and expanding his family, Leslie's commitment to his craft never waned. Even after moving to the car-free island of Sark, his figurines were regularly shipped to the mainland, right up until his retirement in the late 1950s. His final figure, "The Apple Maid" was released in 1957, marking the end of an era.
Designed by L. Harradine. Issued in 1935-1949. Measures 5.75 inches in height.
Leslie Harradine's passion and persistence in the face of adversity have left an indelible mark on the world of ceramics. His work has become a cornerstone of theRoyal Doulton collection, each piece a testament to his talent and unique artistic vision. Leslie's independent spirit, his enduring love for children, and his eye for detail make his pieces worth cherishing, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations.
His creations are a testament to a life lived in pursuit of artistic freedom and the transformative power of clay in the hands of a master. Leslie Harradine truly was, and continues to be, the independent maestro behindRoyal Doulton's treasured figurines.