Monday 7 February 2011

Debenham and Freebody, Wigmore Street W1

Soon after the commission for the Savoy Hotel in 1903, Doulton landed another prominent job for its Carrara Ware white glazed tiles. In 1907 they were specified for Debenham and Freebody's new West End store.
Sir Ernest Debenham was a fan of glazed tiles, which were plastered all over his remarkable home in Addison Road. It is a pity he didn't use the same architect, Halsey Ricardo, on the shop. It would have had a lot more bite than the conventional Edwardian bombast served by William Wallace and J.S Gibson.
The grand curved pediment in front of the central tower displays the Royal Arms and a pair of voluptuous ladies, one with laurel wreaths and another holding a scroll and a pen. I imagine they symbolise Victory and Peace, though they could just as easily represent Value and Customer Service.
I do like the cartouche with the pair of delightful putti over the front door, however. Very lively.

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