Friday, April 15, 2011

Antique Porcelain Ware at the British Museum

French porcelain plate with chinoiserie decoration in gold and platinum, Sevres 1802

British made Japanese inspired ceramics

Below : Made in Sevres 1845 for use at the Chateau de Fontaine Bleau.

A pretty piece with gold plated butterflies

Chinese butterflies and sprigs, English Straffordshire, Wedgewood 1812-1829

Straffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent is the birthplace of Britain's thriving pottery industry which started in the 17th Century. And world renowned names as Royal Doulton, Wedgwood (founded by Josiah Wedgewood), Spode (founded by Josiah Spode) and Minton (founded by Thomas Minton) started at this place. The local abundance of coal and suitable clay gave it a lead start but the subsequent construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal allowed the import of china clay from Cornwall and facilitated the production furthur, cementing its position in Europe's pottery industry. Many of the made in Britain antique tea cups and saucers in the 1800s were made in this area.

Over in France, plates, cups and saucers used by the French royalty were specially made in a factory at Sevre. It supplied tableware with gold decorations to the royal households at the various palaces, bearing the monogram of the reigning monarch at the base together with the name of the place or chateau. But of course, royalty has ceased to exist in France with that chapter in French history dramatically chopped off.

I love tea cups, plates and tiles and spent a considerable time in this gallery admiring the antique pieces on display and learning of its origins. My friend once told me that he was invited to a friend's family dinner in France and prior to dinner, exquisite antique cups and plates were taken out to be admired before they were taken away. Dinner then commenced in another set of tableware. Not sure if he was pulling my leg but I would love to invited to such dinners.

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