March 28, 2012

This rare Flight & Barr Worcester shanked-form plate, is from an interesting Scenic Dessert service, which was painted in chocolate monotones with views of the British Isles, a different scene to every piece. This one has an Irish coastal view including figures around fishing boats, a ruined castle by a village high on the cliffs, within a gilt strawberry border and gold line rims.       
Inscribed to the rear: HOWTH near DUBLIN,   
Flight & Barr, Wor.   Manufacturers to their MAJESTIES.   
Circa 1795     
The central panel is superbly painted, and is probably by the noted Worcester artist John Pennington, most famous for his work on the 'Hope Service' in 1792. 
This must be the village of Howth, near Dublin, in the late 18th century.

The ruins on the cliff top are a distinctive feature.

 Obviously, Howth was a fishing village.
Here, a dingy heads out while a fishing boat makes its way towards the sheltered cove where the womenfolk wait with tubs for the fish. 
 The mark is a very unusual variation on the usual, and other pieces from the same service have this same unusual format. 

The wording of the mark tells an interesting story:
       In 1783, the Worcester factory, started by Dr Wall around 1751, was sold to Thomas Flight - the former London sales agent for the concern - for £3,000. He let his two sons run the concern, with John Flight taking the lead role till his father’s death in 1792.
      George III and Queen Charlotte visited the city of Worcester with their second son (Prince Frederick, Duke of York) and three of their daughters in August 1788. They called at the retail premises of Joseph and John Flight and placed several orders for china. The King then accepted the Flights’ invitation to visit their factory, gave the brothers permission to style themselves ‘Manufacturers to their Majesties’, and advised them to set up a shop in London.   
      Similar favors were bestowed on the rival firm of Robert and Humphrey Chamberlain, which had recently opened a shop in Flights’ former premises in the High Street, Worcester.
      Martin Barr joined the firm as a partner in 1792, and the mark Flight & Barr was used until 1804, when on the death of Martin Barr, his two sons took over the partnership, the company becoming Barr, Flight & Barr.

There is a similar plate from this service with a view of Dudmaston House, Shropshire, can be seen in the house today, which is a National Trust property. Item 813541.

This superb piece is part of the 2012 Exhibition at Moorabool Antique Galleries, Geelong, Australia.
Item page with details & photos here

Visit the Exhibition here
Visit the website here.

March 27, 2012

A Swansea cup & saucer with Thomas Baxter figures

This is a rarity: A Swansea London-shape cup & saucer, superbly painted by Baxter with classical figures, the cup with a depiction of the god Mercury, the saucer with the goddess Ceres.    
Unmarked, but unmistakeably Swansea porcelain, it dates to Circa 1817. 
There are only a handful of classical figures by Baxter recorded; this one comes from a pair of chache-pots, signed & dated 1801.

This rarity is part of the 2012 Exhibition at Moorabool Antique Galleries, Geelong, Australia.
Item page with details & photos here

Visit the Exhibition here
Visit the website here.

Patriotic Caudle Cup by Thomas Baxter, c.1800

An interesting piece from our upcoming 2012 Exhibition is this Coalport double handled candle cup, superbly painted in the Baxter studio with large realistic flower groups, one side with roses, tulip, and an iris, the other with a patriotic mixture of oak leaves and acorns mixed with roses. 
Unmarked it dates to circa 1810.
 The painting is distinctively Baxter's hand at work: note the delicate veining to the iris, and the small fuzzy thorns to the rose stem.
What is quite unusual, possibly unique, is the reverse: it has a patriotic British flair, with the Rose mixed with Oak branches, complete with Acorns.
references: Wilstead & Morris- Thomas Baxter, the Swansea years- p68 for a plate with the same feel of life-like flowers, painted a few years later. The same style can be seen on the famous 'Garden Scenery' service painted while Baxter was at Swansea, c.1817. ref. p41 for examples, also Nance- The pottery & porcelain of Swansea & Nantgarw- pl CXX for other pieces from the service, including very similar irises & roses.
references: Messenger- Coalport- p122 for the shape, decorated in bright elaborate gilding and flowers, attributed to an independent decorating studio and generally thought to be the work of the Baxter studio.

This item is part of the 2012 Exhibition at Moorabool Antique Galleries, Geelong, Australia.
Item page with details & photos here 

Visit the Exhibition here
Visit the website here.

March 23, 2012

2012 Catalogue for Moorabool is here!

Moorabool Antique Galleries, home to the largest range of genuine Antique Ceramics in Australia, has just released its 2012 catalogue.

It's a lavish, glossy affair that does justice to the superb items within.

60 pages overflowing with antiques, mostly pottery & porcelain -

- with plenty of interesting insights to bring the items to life. Topics include:
Freshly discovered Bow figures, a Worcester Blind Earl sweet meat circa 1760, a shell shaped Worcester dish from the Zorensky Collection, C.1754, a fine selection of Lowestoft including a bowl from the Norwich Castle Collection, a look at the products of the Liverpool factories, including a teapot with pheasants attributed to William Reid & Co, a fine selection of James Giles decoration on Worcester porcelain, including a stunning pair of serving dishes from a Lady Mary Wortley Montagu type service, A Thomas Baxter feature including a newly attributed Chamberlains plate with a French peasant to the center, another of classical figures on Swansea porcelain, and a most unusual Coalport piece with patriotic rose and acorn panel; some documentary Swansea plates with pattern no. 721- birds on a branch- which is also 16 numbers higher than the previously highest Swansea pattern number; a look at the Swansea imitators who fulfilled the demand for fine porcelain after the failure of the Swansea works in the 1820's, a look at William Billingsley's contribution to the ceramic world of the late 18th/ early 19th century, including a rare W(***) bough pot painted with a landscape by Billingsley at Mansfiled, a French tureen with botanicals almost certainly by his hand at Brampton, some Pinxton, a good look at Factory X, Y, & Z and their recent attribution to Keeling (X) and Thomas Wolfe (Z) with many interesting examples, a look at the Nglish Hard Paste story with examples of Plymouth, Bristol, and the eventual children's factories in Staffordshire, a rare Wolfe, Mason & Lucock plate made at the Islington Pottery in Liverpool, Miles Mason, Newhall, a gathering of English Armorial replacement plates from various early 19th century factories; From the Continent, a supremely rare Meissen Bottger porcelain teabowl & saucer with the tea plant applied decoration, made 1710-15, a gilt chinoiserie teabowl & saucer with Seuter decoration c. 1725, a Meissen butter tub with Klinger decoration, a Saint Cloud cup & saucer with unusual N mark, a rare Mennecy unglazed urn & cover, a Sèvres yellow ground cup & saucer by Madam Bunel, 1786; a Vienna Gardner figure with a large pot, dating to 1749, a period Capodimonte plate with cherubs c.1780, a fascinating jug attributed to Herculanium, Liverpool, dated 1809, a creamware mug of Australian interest with a convict - Barrington- on it, a German stove tile from the 16th century, a leadlight panel by Stephan Kellner, a pair of French ormolu andirons (fire dogs) after a design by Pillemont, circa 1750, a page of mugs, another of jugs, some supremely rare English pottery, Irish Dublin delft, Staffordshire elephants and cats, stirrup cups including a pugs head, French faience, pages of tea canisters (caddies) of every description, a collection of 18th century milk jugs, some interesting Chinese Export European patterns, a collection of Sukathai stonewares from 12th century Thailand, Majapahit pottery models, some Chinese rarities including Song Dynasy Qingbai dishes, Han Dynasty bronzes, Ming houses and models, Roman glass and artifacts, Egyptian artifacts including a bronze Anubis with an inscription, Etruscan bronze figures, some stunning pre-columbian including a Mayan cylinder vessel with he Hero Twins, c.800AD........ just to name a few items!
If you kept your attention through that amble among the pages of the 2012 Moorabool catalogue, make sure you obtain a copy for yourself- pop over to and download one, or request a printed copy.

Excitement awaits on every page- all 60 of them!

March 14, 2012

Vienna figures.....

We have two interesting Vienna figures for our 2012 Exhibition (31st March, 2012).

This dandy is Vienna porcelain, and  relates to the earliest period of State Ownership: when the businessman Du Paquier was bankrupt, the State stepped in, with the Patronage and funds of Maria Theresia of Austria. For a brief five years, from 1744-49, they used an impressed mark:
In 'Ceremonies-Feasts-Costumes, Viennese figures during the reign of Maria Theresia' by Sladek, - p61 has a related figure with a jug. She mentions the origins being a Meissen figure (as is this one) and bears the earliest 1744-49 impressed mark, as does this one.
The enamels are of a similar mottled effect, in particular tones only seen in the pre-1750 figures. Clearly they are related, and represent a small group of rare copies of Meissen figures for the table, possibly a single table setting.
Many Vienna figures were copied from Meissen originals, but the post 1750 period leads to a majority of original, distinct designs, many by the hand of Ludwig von Lück and other sculptors with a distinct style far removed from the Meissen style. French sources become apparent, as the Vienna court strengthens its connection with the French court by the marriage of Marie Theresia's daughter, Marie Antoinette, to the future Louis XVI in 1770.
The Meissen original by J.F. Eberlein, modeled in 1748, can be seen in Adams -Meissen Figures- p170, titled Pair of Gardners and dated 1748. This very precise date, combined with the usage of the impressed Vienna mark between 1744-49, allows us to date this figure precisely to 1748-9.
 This lovely lass is most probably a representation of 'Spring'. She bears the familiar underglaze blue 'bindenschild' mark of Vienna. Sometimes this is called a 'beehive': however, that description comes from someone who was holding the piece upside down, when it does look like an old-school beehive....
It is in fact the Royal Shield of Vienna. This particular example has a workmans mark also, a Q, to be seen on the earliest pieces of the 1750's.
These interesting figures can be seen in our 2012 catalogue.... download the full PDF here,
or have a preview of a few more items here.

...and before the begining!

Previous post refers to the earliest porcelain of Europe: However, this is not absolutely accurate.....
 This cup & saucer is from the Saint Cloud porcelain factory, France. While Meissen has its origins in 1710, Saint Cloud is decades earlier.......
In 1702, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans gave letters-patent to the family of Pierre Chicaneau, who were said to have been making porcelain as "perfect as the Chinese" since 1693. This was the origins of Saint Cloud.....
Our example dates to circa 1725..... note the unusual base: the radiating rifts show the clay was not quite right when the back was turned on the jig, to make the footrim..... it tore in a spiral pattern, The pieces are incredibly thick, also, showing a vast difference between the Meissen hard paste and this French soft paste: the Meissen is thin because it is true Hard paste, which can be potted to a very fine thickness, due to the strength of the clay.
Soft paste Saint Cloud, however, could not be made so thin, or it would collapse in the firing. It is not a true porcelain, but an artificial one, lacking an important ingredient. The soft is an apt description..... it reflects the light in a very different way....... softly. Light enters the body and is diffused within, like a net curtain on a window with sunlight into a room.  Meissen hard paste is like the Chinese, being very dense and harsh, allowing light through in a uniform manner - like a louver blind.
The mark is fascinating on this piece. Usually, there is a St C or Saint Cloud. This example belongs to a group of as-yet unexplained letter marked pieces. 
The British Museum has an example with an M mark. The Sevres museum has two similar examples, one with an H mark, another with an F mark. In the Rosenberg Collection in Geelong, there is one with a B. All are cups of the same form, with the same design. The reason for these marks is uncertain, they are all Saint Cloud pieces so it is not a manufacturers mark, but an internal factory code of some sort.

This Saint Cloud cup & saucer can be seen in our 2012 catalogue.... download the full PDF here,
or have a preview of a few more items here.

In the beginning......

We're going back to the beginning for our 2012 Exhibition.
This is the earliest possible European porcelain..... from the first few years of the first porcelain factory in Europe, Meissen. The story began in 1709 with the alchemist, Bottger, stumbling across the correct formula for true porcelain, just like the Chinese had been making for hundreds of years......
By 1710, the first very small numbers of pieces of porcelain were on the market. Over the next decade, production gradually increased, but examples from this period are sensationally rare.
What I love about this piece is the decoration: at first glance it seems to be the prunus sprigs seen on late 17th century Chinese porcelain, so fashionable in Europe. However, it is not the prunus flowers - or leaves. Instead, it represents the tea plant - rather appropriate for the intended use of the piece. In this early period, tea was hugely expensive, and the ritual of tea taking only available to the very wealthy. The Meissen porcelain tea-plant porcelain was the perfect compliment.

Here's another early Meissen one with a story to tell.

This bowl is once again early, being the Böttger porcelain from around 1720. However, the decoration is not. While the factory did produce delightful gold chinoiserie silhouettes, these are different. They are in fact the work of a decorating workshop who bought the porcelain in the white and produced their own distinct style of chinoiseries - the Augsburg workshop of Bartholomäus Seuter, circa 1725. 

There is a saucer with it - a little worn on the front, but the back is spectacular, having high moulded ribs with gilt details.

All these exciting items can be seen in our 2012 catalogue.... download the full PDF here,
or have a preview of a few more items here.