Full Name: Lane, Edward Arthur
- Arthur Lane
Date Born: 1909
Date Died: 1963
Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK
Home Country/ies: United Kingdom
Subject Area(s): ceramic ware (visual works), ceramics (object genre), and pottery (visual works)
Keeper of the Department of Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1950-1963. Lane was the son of Reverend E. A. Lane. After attending St. John’s School, Leatherhead, he continued at St. John’s College, Cambridge, on a scholarship, excelling in classical studies. In 1932 he became a scholar at the British School at Athens, then under its young director, Humfry Payne. He followed Payne’s remarkable research on Archaic art, publishing a groundbreaking study of his own on Laconian vase painting in the Annual of the British School. In 1934 Lane was appointed to the Victoria and Albert Museum as assistant keeper in the department of Ceramics under Bernard Rackham. Both as a scholar and curator, he made major changes to the collection. He participated in the 1937 excavations under Leonard Wooley (1880-1960) of Al Mina, Syria, opening up an interest in Islamic art. A 1939 exhibition of tiles established his reputation as a museum person. When Britain entered World War II the same year, Lane worked for R. A. F. intelligence, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader. After the War, Lane began publishing in the Faber series on pottery. These included Early Islamic Pottery, 1947, and the tiny Style in Pottery,1948, a modest but scholarly work on the topic. When Keeper of the Department William B. Honey (1889-1956) retired in 1950, Lane succeeded him at the Museum and as editor of the Faber book series. His next book, Italian Porcelain, was issued in 1954. Lane bitterly opposed the promotion of Trenchard Cox to Director and Secretary of the V&A in 1955. In 1957, he issued Later Islamic Pottery, a more substantial work on Islamic art than his 1948 book. English Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century followed in 1961. He committed suicide at age 53. Lane was a reserved and high-strung personality. Although he had a following of friends, he was, as George Ireland described him, “brilliant but depressive.” As a scholar, he devoted himself to archival work; his Italian porcelain book published research from the Ginori factory near Florence, the first in any language. His work in Islamic ceramics continued the scholarship of Robert Lockhart Hobson (1872-1941).
A Guide to the Collection of Tiles. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. Ceramics Dept., 1939; Early Islamic Pottery: Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia. London: Faber and Faber, 1947; Later Islamic Pottery: Persia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey. London, Faber and Faber 1957; Greek Pottery. New York : Pitman, 1948; English Porcelain Figures of the Eighteenth Century. New York: T. Yoseloff, 1961.
Ireland, George. “Sir Trenchard Cox.” The Independent (London), December 23, 1995, p. 14; [obituary:] “Mr. Arthur Lane, Ceramic Studies.” Times (London) March 8, 1963, p. 14.