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WORCESTER AND DERBY]
755
CERAMICS

productions that the business was conducted on simpler lines than at the Chelsea works. We have, for instance, no elaborate vases in imitation of Sèvres, and no important groups of figures which might challenge rivalry with Meissen. We find, as is common with all the early porcelain factories of Europe, first the production of white pieces with modelled reliefs, or of pieces painted with under-glaze blue in imitation of Chinese porcelain. Then followed the well-known “Quail,” or “Partridge,” and “Wheat-sheaf” patterns in red and green and gold in imitation of the Japanese patterns; and the manufacture of table ware decorated with these simple yet bright and pleasant devices seems to have formed the greater part of the work at the factory. Many figures and statuettes were also produced at Bow, but they are fewer in number and less cleverly made and decorated than the contemporary productions of the Chelsea factory. We may surmise that there was considerable rivalry between these two works situated on the outskirts of the metropolis, for we find the “anchor” mark, which is the best recognized mark of Chelsea porcelain, often occurring on specimens that from internal evidence or from the piece itself we should rather attribute to Bow. The Bow marks are not very certain, but some of the likeliest are here given.

EB1911 Ceramics - Bow Potters’ marks.jpg
Bow Potters’ marks.

Worcester.—The third of the early English factories, and ultimately the most important of all, was that founded at Worcester in 1751 by Dr Wall, a man of unusual attainments, and a number of his friends. How Dr Wall came to learn the secret of porcelain making is absolutely unknown, but even assuming that he acquired some information from wandering workmen it is certain that the Worcester porcelain was soon developed on original lines. The nature of the paste and the glaze of the early Worcester productions, as well as the sobriety of their decorations, stamp this factory as the first where Englishmen really developed a native porcelain. Between 1751 and 1770, the first period of Worcester porcelain, the prevalent influence was that of Chinese blue-and-white, and the pieces of that period are rightly esteemed by collectors for their artistic quality. Probably nowhere in Europe, certainly nowhere in England, was oriental blue-and-white more carefully studied, and a collection of this blue-and-white Worcester is most satisfactory from the aesthetic point of view. The productions at this time were tea and coffee services, bowls, dishes, mugs and plates. The cups were usually made without handles in imitation of the oriental practice, but large, two-handled covered cups for caudle, broth and chocolate were also made during the early period. Many of these larger cups bore an embossed pattern resembling a pine-cone, possibly imitated from a shape produced at St Cloud; while openwork dishes, plates and fruit baskets were also made in imitation of a popular Meissen fashion.

EB1911 Ceramics - Early Worcester Potters’ marks.jpg
Early Worcester Potters’ marks.

The method of decorating porcelain with transfer prints was introduced at Worcester as early as 1756, when Robert Hancock, an engraver, came from York House, Battersea, where the process was first employed for the decoration of the Battersea enamels. The early Worcester prints comprised portraits of celebrities of the time (the Frederick the Great mug), or adaptations of the works of great artists such as Gainsborough and Watteau, or copies of current engravings or sporting prints. The first printing was done in black or purple, and transferred on to the fired glaze, and it was not until about 1770 that the process of printing in blue under the glaze was perfected. It is interesting to note that for many years this process of transfer printing was developed side by side with the older method of porcelain painting, and until the end of the 18th century the processes appear to have been used at Worcester quite independently. The closing of the Chelsea factory in 1770 led to the migration of some of the Chelsea painters to Worcester, and from about that date a considerable amount of Worcester porcelain was decorated on the glaze with enamel colours and gilding after the styles that had been rendered popular at Chelsea and Bow. It is only fair to remark, however, that the Worcester patterns are always distinguished by a certain English character both in the style and the workmanship (see example, Plate X.). The first and most artistic period of Worcester porcelain came to an end before 1783, when, after the death of Dr Wall, the works passed under the control of Thomas Flight and his two sons, who had been jewellers. The Flight influence was soon noticeable from the fact that the new shapes were more and more based on those of Sèvres and Meissen, while the decoration became more mechanical and precise as befitted the work of jewellers rather than potters. King George III. and Queen Charlotte visited the works in 1788 and bestowed upon the firm the privilege of styling themselves “China Manufacturers to Their Majesties,” since when the works has always been known as the Worcester Royal Porcelain Works. In 1793 Martin Barr was taken into partnership; the “Flight & Barr” period, so well known to collectors, lasted until 1807.

Another Worcester porcelain works was in existence after 1784, viz. the Chamberlain factory, which was working in rivalry with the original establishment; but its productions are of no particular artistic merit, and in 1840 the two firms became amalgamated, and so gave rise to the present Worcester Royal Porcelain Co. The most noteworthy feature of the productions of both the Worcester works at the end of the 18th century were the “Armorial” services made for various royal and noble families, and those adaptations of Imari patterns known as “Old Japan.”

Derby.—Experiments in the manufacture of porcelain appear to have been made at Derby as early as 1750 by a French refugee, Andrew Planché; but the business, which was afterwards to attain such a great development, was only founded in 1756 with William Duesbury as its manager. Duesbury was originally a decorator of china figures in London, and his career proves that he was a man of great industry and energy, for within twenty-five years he not only built up a large business at Derby, but he absorbed the decadent works at Bow and Chelsea, so that in the last quarter of the 18th century Derby was the most important china manufactory in England. As is so often the case, a commercial success like this implied the absence of any distinct artistic impulse. The porcelain produced at Derby is for the most part only an echo of the successes of Meissen, Sèvres, or the earlier English factories. It is only fair to remark that a very deep and rich under-glaze blue was attained at the Derby works, and that this was associated with very mechanical painting of birds and flowers and with gilding of exceptional quality. At this factory, too, the old Japan patterns were imitated with exceptional vigour, until “Crown-Derby Japan” became a standard trade name for this clobbered oriental style.

EB1911 Ceramics - Derby Potters’ marks.jpg
Derby Potters’ marks.

Mention has already been made of the “biscuit” porcelain figures made at Derby, which are superior in style to anything else made in-Europe in the 18th century except the “biscuit” porcelains of Sèvres. The Derby “biscuits” of the best type range from 1790 to 1810, and the finest specimens have a “waxy” surface, though there is little or no sheen and every detail remains as crisp as when the figure left the hand of its maker. The most famous of these figures are the portrait medallions and statuettes of British generals and admirals which were modelled by an artist named Stephan. Spengler, a Swiss, modelled numerous groups adapted from the drawings of Angelica Kaufmann, while a workman named Coffee seems to have modelled only rustic figures and animals.

Plymouth and Bristol.—The porcelain factories at Plymouth