Royal Doulton Pears Bubbles
Height - approx 6.25 inches

Andrew Pears arrived in London in 1789 and opened a Barber’s shop in Gerrard Street, Soho – Then a fashionable residential area. The shop was also used for the manufacture and sale of rouges, powders, creams and other beauty aids used by the rich to cover up the damage caused by the harsh soaps then used in Britain. Pears recognised the potential of a purer, more gentle soap and his creation remains little changed even today not only was it of a high quality but it also had the novelty – at the time – of being transparent. Although many other products were manufactured alongside the transparent soap, it was this that made Andrew Pears his fortune.

In 1835 Pears took on his Grandson, Francis, as a partner and, three years later, Andrew Pears retired. By the 1860s Francis had expanded the business such that he built a factory in Isleworth and a new partner joined the firm – Thomas J Barratt – who had married Francis Pears’ eldest daughter. He had ambitious plans and was aggressive and willing to take risks. Soon afterwards Francis Pears retired from the firm leaving his son & Barratt at the helm.

 

Amongst many publicity successes, perhaps the best remembered piece of publicity which Barratt initiated was the use of Sir John Everett Millais’ painting ‘Bubbles’ as an advertisement for Pears. The model for ‘Bubbles’ was the artist’s grandson, Willie James and the curly haired boy made his first appearance at The Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1886. The picture – originally titled ‘A Child’s World’ – was sold to Barratt for £2205 (£5 was for the copyright and the work). Millais gave his permission for Barratt’s advertising campaign – much to the disgust of a hostile art world with criticism still ongoing even after Millais; death in 1896.

The campaign was an incredible success – cleverly linking a unique and recognisable product (the transparent soap) with art and culture and reproductions of the painting ran into millions which probable contributed to its longevity – as it is perhaps still today one of the most recognisable advertising images.

 

© 2008 Royal Doulton, Pears is a trademark of Unilever. Reproduced with kind permission.

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