The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Charles Potter, 1854-1920

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1854
Place of Birth: Cecil Street, Greeheys, Manchester
Date of Death: 1920.10.19
Place of Death:


John Charles Potter was a wallpaper manufacturer and collector. He was the eldest son of John Gerald Potter (1829-1908) and Eliza Adelaide Chapman. He married Harriet Byng and they had one daughter, Jacqueline (b.1908), who married Francis Blackwood.


John Charles Potter was educated at Eton and Christ Church College, Oxford. He achieved a first in History and went on to read for the Bar and practised as a barrister at Preston and Manchester assizes. In 1884 he entered the family business, C. and J.G. Potter of Darwen, Lancashire, wallpaper manufacturers. His father's art collection included Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52), which J. G. Potter had bought in c.1865. Potter also owned Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz (YMSM 41) and Grey and Silver: Chelsea Wharf (YMSM 54). In 1888, JW corresponded with J. C. Potter regarding exhibiting Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52) at the 104th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1886. The painting was not shown. When J. G. Potter sold Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52) for a large profit in 1893, JW was indignant (see #05010).

'Potters' had patented the steam driven, rotary wallpaper printing machine in 1839 which enabled cheap production of wallpaper and was adopted universally by mid-century. The company had begun with calico printing and grew with interests in paper staining, bleaching, spinning and coal mining. Potter mainly had responsibility for paper-making and purchase, but he took a prominent part in the amalgamation negotiations of the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd. in 1899 and 1915. The company now had head offices in London, where Potter moved in 1899. He was appointed chairman of the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd in 1917 till retirement 1919. The 'Potter Gateway', a gift of Mr John Charles Potter, was built 1902 in Sunnyhurst Wood, a park in Darwen.


Entwisle, E. A., The Book of Wallpaper: A History and an Appreciation, London, 1954; Sugden, A. V., and E. A. Entwisle, Potters of Darwen, Privately printed, Manchester, 1939; Oman, Charles C., and Jean Hamilton, Wallpapers, London, 1982.