Overview (in progress)
Agnes Bain Herbert was born in 1875 in Crosshill, Glasgow, the 3rd of 12 children of Thomas Herbert & Agnes Bain. Thomas ran the family Tailoring & Clothing business with his father from premises in Glasgow City.
When the Glasgow Scool of Art promoted its classes part-time & in evenings to artisans and women (!) for the first time, the family sent 3 of its children (Thomas, Agnes & Joanna) to learn new skills to help the business. Also attending were several cousins, and an old neighbour from Dennistoun, Charles Rennie MacKintosh.
The family moved within the progressive, artistic, liberal circles that were turning Glasgow into an internationally renowned centre of Art Nouveau; Thomas was the City Carillionist who rang the Tolbooth Bells on special occasions, and they belonged to the Congregationalist Church with its foward views on adult suffrage, vegetarianism and equal rights.
Agnes took a wide range of classes between [18xx and ] and started describing herself as a designer in the register from 189xx. In the 1901 Census she declared shewas working as an electric light designer
There’s evidence from her dated pieces, and from entries in Post Office directories, newspapers and the Census that Agnes worked all her life and depended on sales for her income. She is often found with a studio address as well as her home, first with her parents, and later with her sisters Maggie & Jessie [check].
Nephews reported having been coralled into carrying the heavy baskets of china down the stairs at 69 St Vincent Crescent into the kiln (in the back garden?)
Main Products (in progress)
China – Agnes’ earliest dated work is a wee jam pot dated 1912 decorated with a tree of life and signed with initials on the base.
dinner set for her sister Catherine when she married Thomas Mackenzie in 1913. Matching replacements made in 1923 prove that the 2 monograms are for the same artist, and that she was Agnes Bain Herbert.
Her sister’s marriage led to contact with the Mackenzie family and numerous commissions for all sorts of work, including the two similar christening bowls made in 1914 for Anna M Keith and Thomas H Mackenzie
The Scotsman reported in May 1931 that “A joint exhibition of pictures, pottery, jewellery and china … in Edinburgh by four Glasgow ladies Agnes B Herbert, Joanna L Dobson, Elizabeth Mary Watt and Mrs Mary Thew. A high artistic standard marks the exhibits, particularly those of the painted china, both with regard to design and in harmonised colouring”
Articles in SPHR
Typical Backstamps and Monograms
“ABH” monogram, occasionally “Glasgow”, sometimes no mark
Other Publications & Links
Very little has been published on the Glasgow lady artists, but there is a lot of original records and the china itself still in circulation