Pair of Plates, Flight Worcester, soft paste porcelain, c.1785-90

 

Decorated in underglaze blue enriched with gilding, these Worcester dessert plates date from the Flight period of the 1780s.

The centre of each plate is painted and finely gilded with three ostrich feathers tied with ribbons and sprays. This central motif is surrounded by a blue circlet around which a narrow, undulating gilt wreath is entwined. The border is festooned with blue and gold, in the prevailing neoclassical taste.

As one might imagine, the three ostrich plumes of the Prince of Wales’s heraldic badge figured heavily in the decoration and furnishing of the Prince Regent's London residence, Carlton House. Although the house no longer exists, there is a painting by Alexandre-Auguste Robineau in the Royal Collection, depicting a fencing match which took place in the dining room there on April 9, 1787. The two opponents are the Chevalier de Saint-George and the crossdressing Chevalier d’Éon. The Prince Regent can be seen wearing the Star of the Garter, and the large appliqués on the fenestration in the background resemble closely the decoration on these dessert plates.

Painted open crescent marks in underglaze blue, although very faintly applied on one.

Provenance: An English Private Collection.

Condition: No chips, cracks, restoration or re-gilding. The gilt decoration is in exquisite order and particularly finely applied to the feathers. One plate only has a very slight kiln touch from manufacture.

Dimensions: Diameter 22 cm

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

Ref. A similar, more commonly seen version of this design occurs with five ostrich plumes, instead of the customary three, supported by a palm frond and an olive branch.

 

   
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Painting by Alexandre-Auguste Robineau, depicting a fencing match which took place in the dining room of Carlton House on April 9, 1787. The large appliqués on the fenestration in the background closely resemble the decoration of the dessert plates