Rare Plate, Isleworth, soft paste porcelain, c.1770


This octagonal plate is painted in underglaze blue with an oriental riverscape in which a pine tree stands in the centre of the foreground, with a willow arching over the water's edge. Underneath the willow branches a small covered boat is tethered. Across the water is a pagoda and a two-masted ship, a flock of birds and a sun disk above. The inner edge is painted with six stylised flower heads, the whole surrounded by a trellis border at the rim.

On account of its similarity to a warship, the sailing vessel gives this design its modern name of the Destroyer pattern. In many ways, this style of decoration resembles that of Chinese and Japanese Arita patterns in underglaze blue, and masted ships and harbour scenes also occur on Delft decorated by Frederick van Frytom, with obvious Chinese and Japanese links. Bow produced similar underglaze blue designs incorporating oriental harbour scenes in the early-to-mid 1750s.

This plate has a number of characteristics typical of Isleworth porcelain, including being virtually opaque when held against a strong light, and a dark, almost ‘sunken’ blue painted decoration.


Provenance: The Davies Collection; Private Collection, London.

Both the glaze and underglaze cobalt blue pigment of this piece have been tested using X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF). The results, published in the English Ceramic Circle Transactions, vol. 28, 2017, reveal that the cobalt blue contains nickel. This is significant as 10 out of 10 of all confirmed Isleworth pieces contain nickel, as do all 36 of the possible Isleworth pieces tested. Compare this with the results for Bow, where no nickel is present in the cobalt blue pigment.

Condition: Three of the corners have small chips, and there are one or two tiny glaze frits to the rim. The glaze to the upper surface shows signs of wear from use, with scratches and knife marks. No cracks or restoration.

Dimensions: Diameter 22.4 cm

Transactions, vol. 28 (English Ceramic Circle, 2017). See the entry for item no. 2015-04 129, page 27.

Isleworth Pottery and Porcelain: recent discoveries, compiled by Roger Massey, Jacqueline Pearce and Ray Howard (English Ceramic Circle and Museum of London, 2003).

Godden's Guide to Blue and White Porcelain, Geoffrey A. Godden (Antique Collectors' Club, 2004).


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