Rockingham “Distin Family Band” garden seat
Designed by Charles Coxon American
Manufactured by E. & W. Bennett Pottery American
Not on view
This relief-molded garden seat depicts the Distin family of musicians, who garnered a certain amount of fame during the mid to late nineteenth century, both as performers on Saxhorns as well as later manufacturing brass instruments in both England and America. The occasion for the design and production of this ceramic work was undoubtedly the Distin family concert tour in the United States in 1849, which was an enormous popular success although a financial disappointment. Such was the group’s popularity that they were subject of numerous articles, and they were featured on ceramic jugs in England, spawning likely this American pottery model.
The figures, each one different, are in "niches" defined by columns and a rounded arch. Each carries a valved brass instrument. The Distin family’s importance to musical history lies in their being among the first performers to showcase the newly developed family of saxhorns made by Adolphe Sax.
The design is likely by British émigré potter, Charles Coxon, who was born into a family of Staffordshire potters. His design training presumably came from the potting district’s Pottery Mechanics Institution, which educated potters in "Geometry, Design, Drawing, Modelling, Painting, Engraving, and the various Arts of Decoration." This ambitious design was probably made only shortly after Coxon immigrated to America in 1849, and he joined the E. & W. Bennett Company, founded by another Staffordshire émigré Edwin Bennett, where Coxon quickly assumed the role as their designer and modeler.