Rare and early Coffee Pot, Worcester, soft paste porcelain, c.1753

 

The baluster-shaped body of this early Worcester coffee pot is painted with a peacock perched on a hollow scholar's rock, in bright famille verte colours. This scene is surrounded by bamboo, large trailing chrysanthemums, and a flowering prunus branch which continues onto the reverse, where there is also a clump of flowers and foliage. Butterflies flutter above. The neck is decorated with a diaper and demi-flower head border, and the end of the spout is painted with green leaves. The spout join is framed with iron red scroll motifs, a decorative device often employed by Chinese artists around handles and spouts.

The spout appears to have been reduced by polishing at the tip prior to decoration being applied, and it is likely that this pot was sold by the factory as an imperfect piece to an outside decorator. This is further reinforced by the fact that no other known examples of this style of decoration are recorded on Worcester porcelain, although famille verte bird painting was a popular subject with the factory during the early 1750s.

With their baluster bodies, upright spouts and scroll handles, coffee pots of this period closely resemble their silver counterparts of the 1730s, however the silver vessels were generally preferred by those who could afford them. This is partly the reason why so few porcelain examples remain from this early period.

Unmarked.

Provenance: The Crane Collection; an English Private Collection.

Condition: There are two flat chips to the rim exterior and a 2.5 cm hairline from the rim. The spout has been re-stuck and there is a circular crack in the join between the foot and the pot, probably from firing. The flat cover is lacking and the pot is fitted with an antique metal strainer. There is some wear from use and misfiring to the enamels, as well as tiny potting and firing blemishes from manufacture.

Dimensions: Height 17.2 cm

Worcester Porcelain 1751-1790: The Zorensky Collection, Simon Spero & John Sandon (Antique Collectors' Club, 1996).

Ref. Writing in 1750, William Ellis recommended in The Country Housewife's Family Companion that the coffee pot should be warmed 'then put the powder into it, and boiling water immediately over the same.' (Spero & Sandon, p.66).

 

 

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