A pair of Bow Butter Tubs and Covers, circa 1760

These butter tubs are oval in form and have two lug handles formed as flattened half-flower heads. The domed covers, each with a realistic leafy twig and cherry knop, have a recess at either end so that they may be held neatly in place by the handles. Each piece is painted in the typical Bow palette of the period, with loose bouquets, floral sprays and scattered sprigs, the artist looking towards decoration on Meissen for inspiration, probably by way of Chelsea.


Provenance: Althorp House, Northamptonshire seat of the Spencer family, sold Christie’s London, 7-8 July 2010, lot 577; English Private Collection.

Condition: Butter tub I: There is a restored crack leading down from the rim (near the lug handle) and running across the length of the base. There is some kiln dust from manufacture. The cherry and stalk finial is a replacement. No other damage or restoration. The Bow painter charmingly disguised some flaws close to the foot rim with a couple of flowers and leaves.

Butter tub II: There are restored spider cracks to one side, leading onto the base. These have been restored to a good standard and are not visible. There is a small loss to the edge of the rim on the cover. The cover is lacking the cherry stalk attachment, but the cherry knop is fine, although a tiny amount of wear to the red enamel may have been retouched.

Dimensions: Length across the base 11.3 cm

Bow Porcelain: The Collection formed by Geoffrey Freeman, A. Gabszewicz & G. Freeman (Lund Humphries, 1982).

Bow Porcelain, Elizabeth Adams & David Redstone (Faber and Faber, 1981).

Ref. Adams & Redstone illustrate a similar butter tub, cover and stand (colour plate P).