An early Worcester Sauceboat, circa 1754-55

This fine Worcester sauceboat, with its early greyish paste, moulded rococo form and chinoiserie decoration, perfectly synthesizes the art of the potter, the silversmith and the painter. Combining the plasticity of soft paste porcelain with an interest in Meissen decorative motifs, these elements encapsulate the superior quality and ingenuity of Worcester porcelain of the first decade of production.

Blending European silver shapes with a totally idiosyncratic style of decoration, Worcester created unique painted interpretations of a chinoiserie aesthetic. On one side of this sauceboat, a lady (‘Long Eliza’) stands in a garden, holding an inverted fan before a fence. Birds fly overhead and a bamboo thicket can be seen to the left of the fence. The reverse is painted with a stooped figure crossing a bridge. A bamboo thicket is painted beneath the pouring lip. In true rococo taste, each of these delicately painted scenes is surrounded by a superbly moulded asymmetric cartouche. The interior is painted with flowering branches in indianische Blumen style, and a number of Daoist Precious Things. Either side of the pedestal foot is decorated with a frond within an elongated oval cartouche.

Chinoiserie decoration, particularly that incorporating figures, was enormously popular with the Worcester artists of the 1750s. The inspiration for this style of decoration comes from several sources, namely Chinese famille rose and famille verte porcelain, South Staffordshire opaque white glass, Staffordshire saltglaze earthenware and the indianische Blumen of Meissen.

Provenance: The Crane Collection; an English Private Collection.

Condition: There is a crack surrounding the handle beside the thumbrest. This may have been born from out of an original manufacturing flaw. There are typical clay tears and firing cracks to the body and the foot rim from manufacture, and also speckling, to which this early paste was prone. There is a small nick to the rim. No other damage and no restoration. The painted decoration is exquisite, with only a little wear from use.

Dimensions: Length 19.4 cm

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

Lund’s Bristol and Early Worcester Porcelain 1750-58: The A.J. Smith Collection, Simon Sero (2005).