The finest English porcelain, both soft and hard-paste was made between about 1745 and 1775. The first English porcelain was probably produced at Chelsea under Charles Gouyn, but his successor Nicholas Sprimont, a Flemish silversmith who took over management in 1750, was responsible for the high-quality wares, especially the superb figures, for which the factory became famous. Factories at Worcester, Bow, and Derby also produced wares that rival those of the Continent.
Led by the ambitious, energetic, and enterprising Josiah Wedgwood and his successors at the Etruria factory, English potters in the late 18th and early 19th centuries became resourceful and inventive. Wedgwood's contributions consisted mainly of a much improved Creamware, his celebrated jasperware, so-called black basalt, and a series of fine figures created by famous modelers and artists. After Wedgwood, other potters of the first half of the 19th century developed a number of new wares. Of these, Parian ware was the most outstanding and commercially successful.
Among the most beautiful and successful wares invented by 19th-century potters were those decorated in what came to be known in England as pate-sur-pate, a paste-on-paste technique devised sometime after 1870 by Marc-Louis Solon (1835-1913) of Minton's in England. Pate-sur-pate, involving both modeling and painting techniques, was stained Parian ware decorated with reliefs in translucent tinted or white slip, the colors being laid one upon the other. Minton wares decorated with pate-sur-pate became the most costly and coveted ceramic ornaments produced in England in the last quarter of the 19th century
By the late 19th century, with the development of machinery and the introduction of new technologies, the age of mass production dawned and the potter's art consequently suffered. Western ceramic wares declined markedly in quality of materials and decoration. Not until the 1930s were signs of revival in the form and decoration of ceramics discernible, principally in the productions of artist-potters who were active in Western Europe and the United States.
Many of these artist-potters arrived at their innovations by way of continuous experiment with materials and techniques. Others sought inspiration from primitive types of Japanese pottery or in the forms of ancient American Indian traditions.
Since the end of World War II, the design and decoration of ceramics in both Europe and the United States, especially ornamental wares, has been largely influenced by individual artist-artisans. Commercial products, such as table wares, have tended to reflect the styles and patterns developed by these potters, whose work has often shown striking originality.
A Chinese Ca Mau Shipwreck Saucer
In the Yongzheng period 1723-1735.
Salvaged 1998 and sold at Sotheby's / Netherlands in 2007. Tiny Plate entitled "Pencil Discussion".
Worcester Cup and Saucer
First Period Worcester cup and saucer.
An old English name from French for a carnation or pink. The pattern derives from French porcelain, principally Chantilly where it enjoyed great popularity in underglaze blue in the 1760’s and 1770’s. Worcester copied the pattern faithfully and with a certain amount of care on all sorts of tea wares, mugs and pickle dishes, along with asparagus servers.
A Staffordshire pearlware miser’s jug, with raised moulded panel depicting a miser decorated with bright brown and green foliage.
Pearlware was developed by the English potteries about 1775 as a result of efforts to produce a white pottery that looked like porcelain, but was cheap and could be sold to the rapidly growing middle class. In the 1780s it was commonly decorated with blue pseudo-Chinese scenes, imitating English and Chinese porcelain. In the 1790s polychrome decoration became common.
Pearlware was made by throwing the clay on a potters wheel, or in mound. Surfaces and details were finished on a lathe. Handles and spouts were added, all by hand. The pieces were fired in huge coal-fired kilns to produce biscuit ware. The decoration was then painted by hand, and the pieces dipped in a lead glaze. A second firing fixed the glassy glaze and developed the colours, which were securely trapped under the glaze. Because of the high temperature used, only a limited palette of earthy colours could be used..
“Edged” pearlware, with the shell edge coloured, was the cheapest available ware with any colour. The same ware with added decoration like birds was a little more expensive. Because the painting was all done by hand, no two pieces are exactly alike, which adds to their charm. Polychrome painted pearlware was made by many dozen different potteries from 1795 to 1820 or so, but although millions of pieces were made, all of the patterns are rare today.
A 19th century stirrup cup - a hunting tradition
The expression "stirrup cup" has two meanings, both closely connected with hunting. It has long been a tradition for those partaking in a hunt to have a drink before the hunt commences, as a toast to success in the pursuit of their victims. The tradition goes back a long way, certainly into Medieval times - a drink would be offered to riders before they set off after their quarry, whilst they were mounted on horseback, comfortable and ready for the off.
Originally, the expression referred to the drink itself, often mulled ale or wine served in an earthenware or pewter cup, but later, it began to refer to cups which were specially designed for the purpose. During the 18th Century, slender glass and silver cups began to be made with no handle, stem or 'foot', as was usual in a conventional drinking vessel. This design enabled the rider to grasp the cup in a gloved hand whilst clutching the reins of a frequently skittish horse, and may have originated with drinking horns.
Over time, more elaborate designs were produced, usually with a hunting theme, and occasionally, bearing inscriptions connected with the chase. Some examples which survive have their bases carved with the heads of the prey - the fox being most popular (most hunting in the UK at least, is of foxes), but hares and stags being quite common.
Because of their relative rarity and small size, antique stirrup cups are highly sought after, and quite valuable.