Bowl, Worcester, soft paste porcelain, c.1754


This neatly potted early Worcester bowl is finely painted with a Long Eliza design known to collectors as the Snake in a Basket pattern. The outdoor scene depicts a robed Chinese figure holding a blue fan. To the left is a gnarled pine tree at the foot of which rests a basket, and to the right is a flowering shrub. Two birds can be seen in flight. The reverse is painted with a pagoda on an island, above which are small flocks of birds flying in formations of three. The interior is pencilled in iron red with a small tree-covered island.

The popular name of this pattern derives from the snakelike object which is sticking out of the top of the basket, although in actuality, this item is a ruyi sceptre.

Chinoiserie decoration, particularly that incorporating figures, was enormously popular with the Worcester artists of the 1750s. The inspiration for this style of decoration comes from several sources, namely Chinese famille rose and famille verte porcelain, South Staffordshire opaque white glass, Staffordshire saltglaze earthenware and the indianische Blumen of Meissen.

Incised line mark.

Provenance: An English Private Collection.

Condition: There is an invisible repair to a horizontal crack in the blank space below the two birds in flight, and a small, invisibly restored chip to the rim. No overpainting to the enamel decoration, and no other damage. The ruyi sceptre and hair ornament are both picked out with gilding, and the enamels are in superb condition.

Dimensions: Diameter 13.2 cm

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


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