A rare Isleworth Sauceboat, circa 1765-75

This large fluted pedestal sauceboat is decorated with three relief-moulded cartouches, the design resembling prunus blossom. Two of the cartouches contain Chinese scenes painted in underglaze blue. In one, a fisherman sits beneath a tree on a riverbank with his rod and line. Across the river can be seen a small hut. A flock of birds flies above the scene. The cartouche on the reverse is painted with a small dwelling nestled beneath towering, tree-covered rocks. Birds circle in the sky above. The cartouche beneath the pouring lip is painted with a large winged insect. The interior base is painted with a large floral spray. The pouring lip is painted with a shaped cartouche containing a demi-flower head. A leafy spray is suspended from this cartouche and on either side is a small panel painted with a single flower head reserved on a striped ground. A leafy demi-flower head is painted at the opposite, handle end of the interior. The handle is painted with scroll motifs.

This sauceboat has a number of characteristics typical of Isleworth porcelain, including horizontal crazing and virtually no translucency.


Provenance: American Private 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: There is some chipping and wear to the glaze on the pouring lip, and also to one or two areas along the rim. There is a small loss to the glaze and paste on the top of the thumbrest, and there is crazing to the glaze overall. There are one or two clay tears and firing cracks to the foot rim from manufacture. The glaze ran during the manufacturing process causing the blue decoration to blur slightly in places. No restoration.

Dimensions: Length 20 cm

Transactions, vol. 28 (English Ceramic Circle, 2017). See the entry for item no. 2015-04 102, page 21.

Isleworth Pottery and Porcelain: recent discoveries (English Ceramic Circle and Museum of London, 2003).

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

British Porcelain Sauceboats of the 18th Century, Nicholas Panes (Gomer Press, 2009).