A Chinese Milk Jug, decorated in London, circa 1740-50

The exterior of this Chinese milk jug is entirely decorated with a pattern of white and pink chrysanthemum heads surrounded by green leaves and linked by a criss-cross design of green stems. The space between the stems is painted with white arabesque scrolls. Each of these decorative elements is narrowly outlined in black. Blue enamel has been carefully applied between each flower, stem, and scroll, to form a vibrant ground. The rim and foot rim are both decorated with a gilt line, and the handle is painted with small red and gold flames, with the original Chinese underglaze blue design highlighted with gilding. The underside of the handle is painted with red enamel.

The unusal decoration I have tentatively assigned to the early Giles workshop, mainly on account of the use of gilding and the squiggles on the handle. It could also belong to the ‘Limehouse Class’ of decoration of the 1740s, owing to the use of white, pink and blue enamel. The use of green leaves such as these also occurs with famille rose decoration found on Bow of the early 1750s, and some Bow and London-decorated Chinese porcelain of this period appears to have been decorated in the same workshop.

Condition: Very good – no restoration, just a minor clay tear to the foot rim, and a small blemish (slither) to the inner foot rim. Some of the white and pink enamels have misfired slightly during manufacture.

Dimensions: Height 9.5 cm

The Early James Giles and his Contemporary London Decorators, Stephen Hanscombe (Stockspring Antiques Publications, 2008).

European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain, 1700-1830, Helen Espir (Jorge Welsh Books, 2005).

The Watney Collection of Chinese Porcelain Decorated in Holland and England (Bonhams, 2003).