Bowl, Worcester, soft paste porcelain, c.1754-55


This early Worcester bowl is painted with a fantastically imaginative Chinese garden scene containing two improbably large and colourful song birds perched atop a flowering branch and a bright red fretwork fence. The reverse is painted with a large overhanging branch, the interior with a floral sprig and a leaf.

Chinoiserie decoration incorporating gardens, exotic flowers, and birds was terribly popular with the Worcester artists of the 1750s. The inspiration for this style of decoration comes from several sources, namely Chinese famille rose porcelain, South Staffordshire opaque white glass, Staffordshire salt-glazed earthenware and the indianische Blumen of Meissen. The latter was itself inspired by early Eighteenth-Century chintzes imported into Europe from the Coromandel Coast.

Provenance: An English Private Collection.

Condition: There is some light wear to the enamel decoration of the bird on the right, but most notably to the flower painted on the interior base, where there is also surface / glaze wear from repeated use. There is also a small fault just below the interior rim, which looks as though a piece of grit or other impurity may have exploded out of the paste during firing. There is a small chip to the rim. Inspection with a magnifier reveals it to be surrounded by kiln speckling, so it may in fact be a frit. Finally, there is a pinhead-sized chip to the rim. No cracks or restoration.

Dimensions: Diameter 15.5 cm

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


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