First Period Worcester
18th Century Worcester Porcelain. A very abridged and then trimmed and potted history of Worcester porcelain from Lunds Bristol to the soft paste porcelain of First Period Worcester and Thomas Flight. We do not discuss Flight nd Barr and the other partnerships in this category nor Royal Worcester Porcelain. This humble attempt is no more than the briefest of guides to give the observer some context to accompany the images below. We do provide abriegf guide to the decorative styles deployed by Britains most celebrated porcelain company on the banks of the river severn
The name most widely associated with Worcester porcelain is that of Dr John Wall a physician. In conjunction with a chemist ( the apothecary William Davis ) they atempted to produce porcelain. Having met with Messers Lund and Miller of the Bristol porcelain factory they persuaded a group of local businessmen to invest in a new factory at Warmstry House Worcester.
Lunds Bristol. The forerunner of the Worcester factory was the very short-lived manufactory of Benjamin Lund at Redcliffe Backs in Bristol that was in operation between 1749-1751. In Early 1752 the Bristol factory was merged with the newly established Worcester Tonquin factory founded in June 1751. Benjamin Lund transferred all his stock, moulds and working materials and worked as a consultant with the new enterprise for at least a year. It is believed that Benjamin Lund at Redcliffe Backs produced ‘painted blue’ and ‘undecorated’ pieces. Polychrome decoration was undertaken at the new Worcester factory. Some early Worcester porcelain shapes were “heavily influenced” by oriental forms but most derived from contemporary English silver and the contemporary rococo wares.
Early Chinese Decoration 1750-1755. The early decorative influences were mostly Chinese, capturing the spirit of chinoiserie, Chinese scenes, Chinese figures, strutting birds, miniature islands, drifts of flowers and foliage. The decoration being heavily influenced by the fantasy chinioserie of French rococo artist Francois Boucher and “Fleurs de Fantasie” of Jean Pillement and his landscapes
Early Japanese Decoration 1750-1755. Japanese porcelain began to arrive in Britain around 1680. Ceramic designs imported by the Dutch East India Company from Arita , known as “Kakiemon” influenced the porcelain decorators at Worcester. Asymmetric designs with flowering peonies, bamboo and pines trees, prunus blossom and flying birds were created. Other Japanese styles were also emulated to a lesser degree.
Early European Decoration 1755-1765. The influence and impact on the Worcester factory by Meissen cannot be understated. The Meissen style flower painting came to the fore. Some patterns and colour grounds were directly copied from Meissen originals. Other decorative styles in this period include pencilled figures and miniature scenes of European figures in landscapes. Birds in landscapes and intricate flower displays were often associated with the artist James Rogers. Factory marks were infrequently used on polychrome wares during this period and identification is based upon an understanding of the paste and glaze and recognition of distinctive Worcester shapes
The first period 1765-1776. Some of the most successful, finest and celebrated styles of decoration were produced during this period. Rich Japan patterns, Hop Trellis patterns (as many as twelve variants), colourful Chinese figurative patterns, exotic birds and insects, monochrome (both floral and figurative) including blue and white porcelains, colourful floral displays, landscapes, decoration with royal blue borders, turquoise cailloute and dry blue. The coloured grounds were mostly inspired by Meissen and Sevres, examples include blue scale, wet blue or gros bleu, powder blue, mazarine blue, bleu celeste, sea-green, purple scale, yellow, yellow scale, claret, apple green and pink scale
James Giles and Externally Decorated Worcester Porcelain. The capital was at a disadvantage to other regions with regards to porcelain works and manufacture. Clay and coal to fire kilns had to be brought from long distances. Isleworth, Vauxhall, Limehouse, Bow and sadly even the great Chelsea factory were to fail or close or relocate. London did however play a very significant role in the development of decoration on English porcelain. It was fashionable, a huge population centre and it traded with the world. This created wealth, something on which the greatest craftsman and artisans in jewellery, furniture, clothing, art and porcelain decoration had to predicate.
The names of Richard Horwood, Taylor and Abbot, JH O’Neale and others have for the most part been forgotten. That of James Giles has not. Giles was responsible for the more ambitious and prestigious forms of polychrome decoration including the majority of the coloured grounds and his cisele gilding is of the finest quality.
Pencil and transfer decoration – 1756-1765. The technique of pencil decoration derived from Chinese porcelain and was very much in fashion during the period specified. The artist achieved the effect by using a very fine brush of one colour , usually black. A few standard patterns were used – Chinese landscapes, Chinese figures holding parasols, Chinese figures and pavilions, Chinese boy on a buffalo, flowers, butterflies and foliage some of the patterns with intricate borders.
Transfer printing over glaze from 1753-4. The technique was first deployed with enamels by John Brooks in Birmingham, before he went to Battersea in 1753,. The earliest Worcester examples date from 1753-1754 associated with the designer L P Boitard and several prints bear his signature, known as ‘smokey primitives’. The engraver Robert Hancock was the major proponent of the technique he became a full partner in the factory from 1772 until disputes with other partners lead to his departure in 1774. Much of Hancock’s inspiration came from Francois Boucher, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean Pillement and Nicolas Lancret – some prints occur in “jet enamel” a fine strong black colour but other colours include reddish-brown and dark lilac