February 18, 2011

Something familiar....

Cataloguing again!
This is a rarity for the pottery fanatics-
A Liverpool delft tile, printed by Sadler with a peasant scene. It has a distinct border which dates it to the 1758-61 period.

The scene is very funny, and very familiar (I have twin 4 year olds and a newborn baby).....

I'd be the man at the right, looking away slightly queasy....!

Sadler was an interesting character. Born into a printing family in Liverpool, he served his apprenticeship with his father before setting up his own printing business in one of dad's houses in 1758. He was most probably aware of the hi-tech development of printing onto porcelain, which had been achieved in the London region at the Bow and Vauxhaul factories around 1755. He teamed up with an employee of his fathers, Guy Green, and in 1756 applied for a patient on the process. The trouble was, there were three other patients for the protection of the same process already applied for, in 1751, 1754, and 1755.....
So he made sure in the documentation that it was clear he pre-dated the other patients, by claiming he had been using the process for 7 years, ie since 1749!
In any event, Sadler & Green did not receive the patent protection, but that did not stop them from becoming the major suppliers of prints to the region, with their work appearing on Liverpool tin glaze delft, Liverpool porcelain, and several creamware manufacturers products.

This tile will be released for sale in our soon to be announced 2011 Exhibition, in our Geelong premises and on our website.

February 10, 2011

Mennecy figure fest!

A recent purchase has had some interesting interactions with our stock and collection. It is a French biscuit porcelain group of a lady & gent, she teasing a hat off his head while he plays a flute. While many 19th & 20th century factories made such pieces, this example shows all the signs of an 18th century original.

They're on a rocky base, on a low plinth. Beneath is a typical X raised support, popular with the French potters in the 18th century.

Nestled down there is an incised mark.....

It's a cursive D V, the mark for Mennecy, a most desirable firm established in Paris in 1750 and continuing into the 1770's.

...which matches perfectly an unmarked figure attributed to Mennecy currently in stock @ Moorabool Antique Galleries.

The lady is from the same mold, with minor details added by the different 'repairer' - the person responsible for splicing all the parts together.

For some reason, he/she decided to cover his face with a hat on the recently acquired one.
The unmarked example is also distinct for having a high plinth base with swags of applied flowers and bows, very finely modeled. This links in to another group, in the Lorraine Rosenberg Reference Collection. As can be seen below, it has the same high plinth with applied details.
This group shows some youthful gardeners with the fruits of their labors - a basket of flowers and another of fruit. A shovel and a bottle lie at their feet.

It was the identical style, details and paste of this piece which gave the original attribution to the Moorabool stock piece.

Underneath is the same raised X support-

-and nestled up in the base is the same cursive D V monogram mark. Aileen Dawson, of the British Museum, published a paper on these pieces in the French Porcelain Society Journal vol 1, 2003. She describes this cursive D V mark as 'strange', meaning quite unusual, and links them to a documented artist- or rather two, the brothers Christophe and Jean-Baptiste Mo. The pieces which bear an additional MO incised with the DV for Mennecy are regarded as the documentary pieces for these artist brothers: interestingly, on other pieces the cursive D V mark is also associated with them on stylistic grounds. These pieces illustrated here with the D V mark are quite plausibly by the brothers Mo.

Another Mennecy group in the Collection is this small group of musicians.

It is very sweetly modeled, the details fine, the finish superb. Intended as a table decoration for an aristocratic dining table setting, the lady plays the hirdy-girdy while the man conducts with a baton. I assume she was not his only musician, but that surrounding figures were also playing to his rhythm!

Underneath is the conventional D V mark of Mennecy. The S is presumably the repairer who was responsible for constructing this group, in around 1765.

The style is very confident and polished, especially when compared to a similar group. Illustrated in the same paper by Dawson as previously mentioned and reproduced below. This group is stiffly modeled, and actually bears the cursive D V mark previously mentioned in connection with the brothers Mo. Clearly, this is a different artist at work.

The figure below, from Dawson's paper, is similar in feel to the Youthful Gardeners in the Rosenberg Collection.

This is very interesting when we look at the mark, reproduced below- it is the same, strongly suggesting another Mo attribution is possible, if we use the mark as a signature.

Below is yet another mark from the same paper, a similar D V - but probably NOT the work of the Mo's! So it is not as simple as it would at first seem.

The cursive D V mark is not the definitive reason for attribution on these figures. It seems to be the mark of a repairer, or assembler, rather than the sculptor of the original model. The actual original modeler would not get his name onto the products unless he was also the repairer who assembled the figure from the various molds. While this was possibly the case with the examples signed MO, these other models are more open to interpretation.

The figure illustrated above is once again from Dawson's paper. The form of the rocks, the finely detailed figures and the fruit and flowers all bring to mind the figure I have recently purchased, and indeed the figure in stock at Moorabool Antique Galleries in Geelong: examine the seated man and you will see that he is indeed identical to the man in the first photo of this post: the woman is also the same to the waist, where she has been made to sit rather than stand.
Examining the mark yields no surprises: a cursive D V , putting it in the group of other very similar groups by the same hand.

This was a very exciting area to research. There is still much more to be discovered regarding these rare figures. I would love to hear from anyone with an example, especially with the initials mark. By comparing a larger sample, it may be possible to sort out the difference between the sculptor of the original master model- ie the style of the piece- and the repairer of the piece, who most probably left the problem initials on the bases.

The figure will be released for sale as part of the 2011 Exhibition at Moorabool Antiques, Australia; the other group is currently available on the Moorabool website.

February 08, 2011

14 thousand pieces of stock!

Moorabool Antiques has passed 14,000 items on our stock database today! Item 14000 was a sweet little South Staffordshire enamel patch box modeled as a lions head.

It has it's original mirror inside, so you could see to put your beauty spot on - as was the fashion 230 years ago when this was made.

On the cover it has a view of an English sea side town. This should be identifiable - it has a castle, docks, and some interesting square buildings.

While it is the fourteen thousandth item to be catalogued, it has taken 10 years! Of those items, most have sold. In our Geelong shop, though, we still have over 7,000 items on show for sale, most of it is simply not catalogued - yet. So much to do!

February 07, 2011

Flower show

We have a whole tribe of little porcelain boys for our upcoming exhibition. These were the most prolific figure creations of the English porcelain factories in the eighteenth century, in particular Derby. These are all mostly Derby from the 1760-80 period.

They look like contestants in a competition: here is the dog show - (these two are Bow, c.1760-70)

- and they are girls, as can be seen by their plats in their hair. I had not noticed this before, assuming they were the same as the flower boys.

Here is the Flower Competition....

And here's a sample of ceramic racism: the pure porcelain boys all stare at the pottery boy....

He's different! He dates to about the same period, but is from one of the Staffordshire potteries. He is actually rarer than the porcelain boys he is copied from!

I'm sure they will all learn to get along just fine together, come our Exhibition2011 in a few months, where they will all be released for sale.

February 04, 2011

Saint Cloud Chinaman

A rarity for our upcoming exhibition is this small white porcelain box.

It's tiny, just 3.5 cm , and disappears in the palm of my hand. Maybe it was better suited to the hands of the 18th century lady to whom it was first gifted, by her rococo beau....

It is a beautiful white French porcelain, and could be a couple of factories, Saint Cloud or Mennecy to name two. I settled on Saint Cloud.

This view of the lid shows a prime reason for the attribution to Saint Cloud: the distinct moulded flowers.

It has silver mounts, which is a great help in dating, as long as they are original. They have all the indications of a period piece of silverwork, including a microscopic hallmark.

Luckily I have a proscope electric microscope: here is the mark magnified x50: it is a rooster head.

This dates it nicely to 1750-56, and places it in Paris, which is typical of these pieces. They were constructed by silversmiths, who purchased the various components from the porcelain manufacturers.

The teabowl here is a 1730's piece of Saint Cloud in our reference collection. Alongside it, the Chinaman is quite a happy match. Mennecy, the other option, has a much more creamy appearance.

Here is the box in context: the European fascination with the Orient. His friends here are Magot, or Pagod figures, early Vienna in the background, and of uncertain origin in the foreground. They are based on Chinese prototypes from the 17th century, and appear in almost all the creations of the early European porcelain factories, including Chelsea and Bow in England, Meissen in Germany, and Chantilly & Saint Cloud in France.

This unusually small Saint Cloud box will be part of the Moorabool Antique Galleries 2011 exhibition & sale, to be held in Geelong in April 2011.

February 02, 2011

English Enamels

Here is a scene from our English cabinet: Eighteenth century English porcelain and enamels.

To the far left and right are Birmingham enamel boxes, painted with couples in landscapes in the French manner, and dating to the 1760's.
Between them is a selection of South Staffordshire enamels, daring to the 1780-1800 period, and printed with hand coloring.
Behind them is a pair of rare Derby birds, circa 1770, and a Derby cherub with a basket of flowers , circa 1780.

These are all current stock items available on www.moorabool.com