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French Feature

French Revolutionary items, 1790's

Moorabool is privileged to be asked to infuse some ‘French Culture’ into Geelong’s National Trust house ‘The Heights’. This is part of their special event, ‘Le Festival Français’ – an annual weekend of celebrating everything French.

THe Heights

On the last weekend of October, 2023, this historic house will have a ‘trés Français’ look.

Thomire Painting
Pierre Augustin Thomire (Paris 1724 – Béraut 1808)
Lady with child & dog, signed & dated 1783

We have selected a quantity of French items both in stock at Moorabool, and in the ‘Lorraine Rosenberg Reference Library’, also at Moorabool.
The late Lorraine Rosenberg was a self-confessed Francophile, and French items such as some superb Sévres were collected as study pieces.

French Royalty, Sèvres Porcelain including portrait of Louis XV, 18th century
French Royalty, Sèvres Porcelain including portrait of Louis XV, 18th century. Moorabool Stock & Reference Collection.

A very French item is the Faience plate with propaganda. These must have been like a ‘political poster’ stating your views – think Australia’s recent YES/NO exercise. If you supported the Revolutionaries, you would display your plate with Revolutionary motifs; if you were w Royalist, you would make sure your Royalist plate disappeared from view as soon as the Revolutionaries started guillotining everyone with Royal sympathies!

Three Ages of French History: Royalty, Revolution, and Napoleon.
Three Ages of French History: Royalty, Revolution, and Napoleon.

We have defined three main periods to focus on.




Paul Rosenberg is giving a talk on these important aspects of French Culture, using these pieces as illustrations.

For all who are unable to see the actual display, we have compiled the pieces on this page for you to enjoy.

The following pieces were included in the ‘Festival Français’ display, ‘The Heights’ Geelong October 28-29, 2023.




Aubusson Display

These fabulous tapestries are an unused suite fro the late 19th century, never attached to furniture, or installed on the walls. There’s even an unused floor ‘rug’ – the colours still fresh, having been packed away in a chest since being brought to Australia over 100 years ago!

Aubusson Tapestry, France: left is a 'cartoon' design, 19th century, right is a woven chair seat of the same period, unused.
Aubusson Tapestry, France: left is a ‘cartoon’ design, 19th century, right is a woven chair seat of the same period, unused.

Le Brocante de Moorabool

Moorabool's Brocante at 'The Heights' Geelong October 2023
Moorabool’s Brocante at ‘The Heights’ Geelong October 2023

Below you will find the various pieces of French origin we had on display for the weekend in the ‘Dovecot Brocante’.

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Très Français! French Celebration @ ‘The Heights’, Geelong, 28-29 Oct. 2023

Moorabool's Brocante at 'The Heights' Geelong October 2023


Moorabool is pleased to be a part of the 2023 ‘Le Festival Français’, to be held on the last weekend of October 2023.

It’s a fabulous celebration of all things French – Food, Wine, Music – there’s even a ‘New Caledonia Tourism’ stand which is giving away a trip to that French Paradise in the Pacific….

New Caledonian figures @ MOORABOOL ANTIQUES
Some New Caledonian figures in stock

The location is a favourite of Moorabool’s: ‘The Heights’, one of Geleong’s historic National Trust properties. John & Lorraine Rosenberg were always involved with projects at this fascinating property, and their son Paul had his introduction to presenting the ‘world of Antiques’ to an appreciative audience here in the 1990’s with an exhibition & talk on ceramics.

THe Heights

This year, we have the privilege of providing something ‘Fresh’ for the interior of the historic house, installing a series of displays to set the theme of French Culture. Paul is to talk on this subject, 3.30 on the Saturday (bookings essential via Le Festival Website).
The house itself has an interesting story. It is actually Continental – not French, but not far off: it was imported from Germany in 1854 as a pre-fab, and has the distinction of being the largest prefab in Victoria.

Read more about ‘The Heights’ on the National Trust’s website:

Our display throughout the house, titled ‘Tres Français’, is a look at three main epochs of French History:

Three Ages of French History: Royalty, Revolution, and Napoleon.
Three Ages of French History: Royalty, Revolution, and Napoleon.
  • the Ancien Regime, with Royal objects of the 18th century
  • the Revolution, with some Revolutionary Rarities
  • the one & only Napoleon, with a series of period & later ‘Napoleonic’ items

Most of the items illustrated here & on display in ‘The Heights’ are shop stock, a few are from the Lorraine Rosenberg Reference Collection @ Moorabool Antiques, Geelong.

French Royalty, Sèvres Porcelain including portrait of Louis XV, 18th century
French Royalty, Sèvres Porcelain including portrait of Louis XV, 18th century
French Revolutionary items, 1790's
French Revolutionary items, 1790’s, including the ‘Head of Danton’
Napoleonic - including the 'original' Napoleon Bonaparte (central profile) and Napoleon III, Sèvres plate to the left.
Napoleonic – including the ‘original’ Napoleon Bonaparte (central profile) and Napoleon III, Sèvres plate to the left.

There is also an installation of a remarkable suite of Aubusson room furnishings, later 19th century, complete with carpet, wall panels, and upholstery for chairs. We’ve brought out our original 18th century Aubusson-clad Louis XV chair, and the collection of original designs, called ‘cartoons’, which were used by the Aubusson craftsmen to create their famous products in the 18th & 19th century.

Aubusson Tapestry, France: left is a 'cartoon' design, 19th century, right is a woven chair seat of the same period, unused.
Aubusson Tapestry, France: left is a ‘cartoon’ design, 19th century, right is a woven chair seat of the same period, unused.

As well, we are putting together a ‘Brocante’ – the French equivalent of a flea market – in the historic dovecot, next to the stables. Here you’ll find almost everything – from some special 18th century – and pricey – items, right down to $5 Irrésistible French Bargains.

Moorabool's Brocante at 'The Heights' Geelong October 2023
Moorabool’s Brocante at ‘The Heights’ Geelong October 2023
Moorabool's Brocante at 'The Heights' Geelong October 2023
Moorabool’s Brocante at ‘The Heights’ Geelong October 2023

A feature will be an extensive array of brand-new French-theme cushions, with a cover just $25, or a full cushion with eco-friendly Australian made inner, $35.

Come along and enjoy the Fabulous French Food & Wine, Music & Entertainment, and of course, the ‘Antiquités’!

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A Tournai Sauceboat

Tournai Sauceboat c.1770

This extraordinary example of Tournai porcelain shows the quality they were able to produce.

Tournai Sauceboat c.1770
Tournai Sauceboat c.1770

Dating to circa 1770, the elegant form with robust yet stylish handle, and boat-shaped stand, is a premonition of the Neoclassical simplicity which comes to dominate French design in the last decades of the 18th century. While this aspect looks forward, the decoration is the opposite. It is taken from a print published mid 18th century, after a painting by Francois Boucher, and is the essence of the Rococo style.

The mark is always misunderstood: ‘crossed swords are Meissen’ is the usual assessment, however this piece is clearly soft-paste porcelain, not the hard-paste of Meissen. As a vast number of other makers ‘borrowed’ crossed swords, it is easily attributed to one of these fraudulent makers, like Samson of Paris.
However…. this mark is well documented on Tournai porcelain. In the underglaze blue & white products, it is not uncommon. Gold on glaze is rare, but does appear on their better decorated pieces, suggesting it was a mark for their ‘premier products’.

There is a single example in public collections, not published in the literature. This is a sauceboat in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (id=#1968-172-1) , documented on their website. It lacks the stand, but has the same lavish decoration – with a few variations.

A stunning recent discovery shows Tournai porcelain at its best - a Sauceboat & Stand with Cherubs after Boucher, c. 1770
In the fore is our example; the back shows the Philadelphia Museum’s slight variation.
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A Box or Two….

Soth East Asian Ceramic Boxes

Some fascinating ancient boxes, just released on

We’re pleased to offer a small selection of South-East Asian ceramic boxes, fresh to

Collection of South East Asian Ceramic Boxes

These pottery and porcelain objects were produced in vast quantities in certain places as trade goods, and as a result are found all across South-East Asia.

Khmer bird pot, 12th century
Khmer bird pot, 12th century

The earliest we have are the Khmer examples, with one delightfully shaped like a small plump bird; his beak and eyes protrude from one side, balanced by a tail at the rear. A small conical cap to the top is almost a miniature Buddhist stupa….

Song Dynasty, 13th century
Song Dynasty Qingbai, 13th century

Equal date is the amazing large white glazed porcelain box with a peony rose moulded to the top. This is from Song Dynasty China, 12th-13th century, of a type known as ‘Qingbai’.

Thai 15th century

I like the Thai pieces from the 15th century for their sophisticated moulded patterns. The ‘Deer’ and the ‘Flower’ boxes we have are particularly tactile pieces, encouraging you to explore their design with your fingertips.

Swipe Left, South Australian Museum:Swipe Right, our example. Thai, Swankalok,

The other Thai pieces are a larger form, made to hold more. These are a distinct high-fired stoneware, and the kiln sites for these were traced & excavated in the 1980’s in Thailand, known as Sawankalok. Australian scholars were a major part of this study, and an important collection of these pieces can be seen in the Art Gallery of South Australia. Interestingly, there is an almost identical box to one of our pieces there, the only difference being a complete reversal of the colour scheme; ours is like the ‘negative’ of theirs!

What were they used for?
The answer to that is “whatever you need a box for!”
Much like a Tupperware box today, they would have been used for whatever the locals needed a small container to hold. In some regions they were probably highly prized expensive imports, used in such prestigious occasions as wedding dowries and burials of the more wealthy. In some of the Indonesian island kingdoms, for example, they are found in ‘caches’, large groups of buried ‘treasure’ including ceramics and precious metals – probably a local wealthy person burying their prized possessions in a time of conflict and never coming back for them.

Hoi An Shipwreck, c. 1490
Hoi An Shipwreck, c. 1490

Another amazing source of these boxes are shipments that never made it to the market place. Boxes from well-known shipwrecks that we have include the Vietnamese products from the late 15th century Hoi An wreck, and a few from the early 17th century Ming Dynasty Bihn Thuan wreck, sold off in Melbourne a few years ago.

Here’s a selection currently in stock:

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Fresh Nautical Antiques & Art

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The second half of 2023 will see a fine collection of Nautical interest added to Ships & Shipping feature in paintings & prints, and there’s a number of model ships being made seaworthy – or at least desk-worthy!

Australian Clipper Ship - naive nautical ship painting, circa 1880
An Australian Clipper Ship – naive nautical ship painting, circa 1890
Victorian image of Krakatoa, c. 1883
Victorian image thought to be of Krakatoa, Sunda Straits, c. 1870’s-1883
Skinner Prout watercolour

An interesting sepia watercolour by Skinner Prout (1806-1876)

Watercolour- 'Tasmanian Barque "Harriet McGregor" -built Hobart 1870" by Warwick A. Andrews, 1974'
Nautical watercolour- ‘Tasmanian Barque “Harriet McGregor” -built Hobart 1870″ by Warwick A. Andrews, 1973’
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Upcoming Australiana

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Have a preview of interesting Australiana currently being prepared for sale.
Feel free to email any questions.

Australian Art

A fantastic story is emerging from three small works purchased in 2022. Two are miniature landscapes of Australian bush scenes; the other is a similar scene, Trompe l’oeil style on a gum leaf, surrounded by Australian wild flowers.

All were in original, neglected frames, and the backs all had the same artist attribution, added in pencil along with the instruction ‘For Ron’:
‘Painting by Jessie L. Evans, of Heidelberg School’.

On the two oil bush scenes: “For Ron – painting by Jessie L Evans” – incorrect attribution!
‘J L E’ signature

As is often the case with later attributions, this doesn’t make much sense when we look at her published works. She was very much an artist of the impressionistic school, like the other Heidelberg greats.
However, there is one very interesting clue visible: the gum leaf has a signature with the correct initials – ‘JLE’ – for Jessie Laver Evans.

On reverse of ‘gum leaf’ watercolour: “Painting of Creek near Brighton (Vic) by Jessie Evans of Heidelberg School” – correct attribution (piece is signed)

This suggests that this piece at least is by her hand.
The other pair however have no visible signature. Only one thing to do: de-frame them and look at the back!
Nine times out of ten, there’s nothing of significance to be seen on the back of a de-framed picture. This is an example of when there is – not only a name for the artist, but also a date, and most excitingly, a direct link to Jessie L Evans!

This dedication, a few days after Christmas in 1885, shows a direct connection between Alfred William Eustace, a well-respected colonial painter of the Goldfields era, who was 65 when he met ‘Miss Evans’, aged 25. At this stage, Alfred Eustace was famed for his paintings on broad, flat gum tree leaves, and in the early 1880’s had several exhibitions of these very Australian works in Melbourne galleries.

Miss Evans attended Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria Art School 1880-91, so she no doubt came into contact with Eustace at one of his Melbourne exhibitions; the watercolour we are examining is the visual proof, as it is an accurate impression of his oil-on-leaf creations – with her own addition, the wildflowers that surround it. This is an early work, when she is just learning to paint and has yet to ‘find her style’. She did this in the following years, being taught at the Art School by Frederick McCubbin, E. Phillips Fox, and Tudor St George Tucker, having as her fellow students

More to come on this exciting piece of research, with a blog post dedicated to the story of Jessie ( her father wouldn’t let her be ‘commercial’ and sell her paintings as it would appear her father couldn’t support her …. but she still opened a gallery in central Melbourne!) and the remarkable tale of Alfred William Eustace, ‘Gumleaf-Painter to Her Majesty’ !

The Port Jackson Painter – in the style of….

Blue-faced honeyeater, after The Port Jackson Painter, 1789
Blue-faced honeyeater, left: The Port Jackson Painter, 1789 | right: Moorabool Antiques, Geelong
View in Eltham by Kit Turner
View in Eltham by Kit Turner

Little-known artist Kit Turner has a fascinating tale to tell. Born in England, she studied art & copper smithing, travelled to NZ where she was an accomplished arts & crafts metal worker, married a fellow metalsmith, and moved to Melbourne where she lived at Eltham. There she became familiar with Walter Withers of ‘The Heidelberg School’. That’s his house, visible in the distance over the creek, beyond the chickens and the cows, in the oil above by Kit.

Walter Withers - View in Eltham with two ladies conversing, signed & dated 1904
Walter Withers – View in Eltham with two ladies conversing, signed & dated 1904
Margery Withers - Portrait of Kit Turner (?) c. 1920
Margery Withers – Portrait of Kit Turner c. 1920

We also have a Walter Withers watercolour, painted from the other side looking towards where Kit would have painted this picture… and Walter depicts two ladies, one quite young, the other older…. Mrs Withers…. or could it be Kit?

Walter’s daughter, Margery, was also an artist; there’s a watercolour by Margery (in the Eltham Council’s collection) titled ‘Kit Turner’s House’. It’s a view from the place shown above, looking at a different angle: Kit Turner has painted her oil view literally just outside the door of her studio. On a recent information-gathering trip to Eltham, we were elated to discover her house – and studio – are still standing! No records or literature seem to note this. We have gathered a terrific lot of info on Kit Turner, metal-worker and painter in oils, including photographs of her in her studio.
In one of those moments of serendipity, at an auction in Melbourne, 2023, there was a Margery Withers oil portrait of a Woman – which is the clear, strong features of Kit Turner herself…..

Kit Turner in her Studio (metalworking) c. 1920

More info to come on a special blog post on Kit & the Withers, including Australian Sterling Silver by Kit Turner and more works. If anyone has any other pieces, please contact us.

Skinner Prout watercolour
Skinner Prout sepia watercolour, 1830’s
Lavender Bay by Charles Tindall 1891
‘The Old Post Office, Lavender Bay’ watercolour by Charles Tindall, signed & dated 1891

WJ Wadham

WJ Wadham, Australian River Landscape watercolour, 1880's
W J Wadham (1863-1950) large watercolour – River view, NSW,
c. 1890, work 49 x 74cm. frame 89 x113cm.

A fascinating story evolves from this large watercolour. The style is very unusual for the period, being a technique much used in the latter 20th century; however, the artist is a well documented English-Australian, who was active here in the 1870’s-80’s.

British born, the Wadham brothers William Joseph and Alfred Sinclair were the sons of a notable deaf & dumb painter, Benjamin Brassett Wadham (1816-1904).
W.J. had his first painting accepted by the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, aged 14. He migrated to Australia in 1885 – his brother followed in 1887. They had exhibitions in Melbourne in 1889 and 1895, which were well received. They settled in Adelaide, joining the South Australian Society of Arts.
They ran “Wadham & Sinclair’s Fine Art Institute” in Adelaide where they also gave lessons; travelling extensively, they were in New Zealand in 1896, Western Australia in 1897. Alfred returned to London in that year, and also in 1897 their works were well received at the London Exhibition of Dominion Art, attended by the Prince of Wales.
Joseph continued to travel, visiting & painting in South Africa and Canada as well as New Zealand and Australia. He helped found the Royal British Society of Artists which held their first exhibition in 1902. In latter years, he opened a commercial Art Gallery in Sydney, selling notable British artists including Birket Foster, Lord Leighton, Moreland, Wilkie, and the Pre-Raphaelite master, Sir John Millais.
He sold up the Gallery & moved back to England in 1923.

  • WJ Wadham, Australian River Landscape watercolour, 1880's
  • WJ Wadham, Australian River Landscape watercolour, 1880's

John F Norton

J F Norton - Australian River Landscape

John. F. Norton has been recorded in the Art Literature as ‘Active 1898-1918’.
These two oils are clearly dated 1932, indicating a much later working period than recorded. As many works in the sales records are not dated, they may belong to this later period of his work.

Australiana Silver

‘Corio Cricket Club’ prize, 1874, won by E.S.Willis…. one of the Willis Brothers who wrote the first ‘Aussie Rules’ rulebooks, and basically invented the game! English Sterling Silver – more fascinating history of this item to come. The clipping is the newspaper report from 1874.

Here’s unimportant piece of Sporting Memorabilia…. particularly for Geelong residents who follow ‘The Cats’.

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A Chinoiserie jug by Thomas Drewry & Son, Lane End, Staffordshire, 1818-30.

Drewry & Son, Lane End, London Shape jug, pattern 65, marked 'D' in sunburst, at Moorabool Antiques, Australia

An interesting rarity has just been unearthed at Moorabool.

Godden in his ‘Staffordshire Porcelain’ is the initial source of attribution, using the style of piece & pattern to date it to the 1820’s, and then refine it down to two possible makers with ‘D’ surnames. Drewry- also spelt Drewery – is the most likely of the two, in his opinion. They are recorded in the directories 1818, and disappear after the 1830 publication. Godden illustrates the London-shape teapot with the same pattern and ‘D’ mark on p415. Distinct to this maker (apparently not found elsewhere) is the plain handle form, without a spur on the inside towards the bottom; also distinct is the handle wrapping down the body and terminating by touching the actual foot of the jug.

Hilditch Porcelain Chinoiserie patterns, from 'Hilditch Porcelain - A Collector's Guide' by Margaret Hewat & June M. Owen

A selection of similar patterns, made by the Hilditch firm. These are identified by marked examples, set out in a 2003 publication, ‘Hilditch Porcelain – A Collector’s Guide’ by Margaret Hewat & June M. Owen.

The similarity to the Drewry pattern is no coincidence; the Hilditch works were located in Lane End, Staffordshire, just over the road from the Drewery works. The engraver responsible for the copper plates used to print the transfer was not exclusively employed by these companies; rather, he would be a freelance operator, taking on the work when it was needed. Somewhere like Drewry would not need his services very often – this was pattern 65, and such printing plates could stay in use for many years before needing replacement. If you examine the details of the prints of these Hilditch products, and the other similar works such as Newhall, it is clear that the same engravers are at work for multiple firms – making this marked example an important clue to unravelling the correct attribution of these charming transfer printed wares.

Drewry & Son, Lane End, mark, a 'D' inside a sunburst star
from the ‘Transferware Collector’s Club’ database, on the ‘Teahouse Pattern’ jug illustrated below, with the note
“The numerals “44” alongside the “D” mark are more likely a worker’s number than a pattern number”.
We propose that it is indeed a pattern number, and should be read as ’77’ – see image below for the pattern.

This pattern is recorded by the Transferware Collector’s Club database as pattern #2552, titled ‘Pavilion & Tower’ ( no. 65) by Thomas Drewry & Son, Lane End, Staffordshire.  A related pattern is their #3327, a pattern known as ‘Tea House’ (See photo below).  In the documented example, there is a number next to the mark – as there is with this example & others of this pattern that have been recorded, all ’65’. Clearly this is the pattern number for this pattern, 65.  
The numbers on the ‘Tea House’ example are interpreted as ’44’, but seem to more likely be meant as ’77’ – just a few patterns along from this ‘Pavilion & Tower’ pattern. Comparing the two reveals a very close look.

Drewry Pattern from The Transfer Collector's Club website
Drewry Pattern 77(?) from The Transfer Collector’s Club website. Note the difference in the handle: this example is the same as the other numerous London-shape handles with a spur on the inside, while the (apparently) unique feature of the example we are documenting is having no spur.
Drewry & Son, Lane End, London Shape jug, pattern 65, marked 'D' in sunburst, at Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Drewry & Son, Lane End, London Shape jug, pattern 65, marked ‘D’ in sunburst, at Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Godden's 'Staffordshire Porcelain' example of Drewry porcelain
Example of Drewry porcelain London-shape teapot, pattern 65, now known as the ‘Pavilion & Tower’ pattern, here illustrated in Godden’s ‘Staffordshire Porcelain’
Drewry & Son London Shape Cup & Saucer, pattern 65 circa 1818-30
Drewry & Son ‘London Shape’ Cup & Saucer, pattern 65, circa 1818-30

This piece is a fine example of how time disappears in this field: unravelling the above story took quite a while, with widespread resources to consult and bring together to tell the story. And yet, look at the price: Rarity doesn’t necessarily mean ‘expensive’ !

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Some Stunning Sèvres

Sèvres lotus-moulded dish, compotier rond, flower sprays, dated 1764

There’s a splendid pair of Sèvres dishes fresh to Moorabool.

Sèvres Porcelain, 1764
Sèvres Porcelain, 1764

This shape is a compotier rond, and was a component of the large services, used alongside other shaped serving dishes in the centre of the table. A setting for a dozen might have two compotier rond, while the larger services, such as the massive Service Camaïeu Carmen de Fontainebleau (used by the Royal Family) had several dozen of this elegant dishes available.  

Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia

The moulded pattern allows the beauty of the moulded porcelain to show in a way the more painted patterns cannot. 

The elegant lotus flower design is borrowed from Chinese Export origins, where lotus-moulded dishes were a common sight in the early 18th century. 

Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Sevres 1764. Moorabool Antiques, Australia

One of the dishes simply has the crossed ‘L’s’ mark, enclosing the date letter ‘L’ for 1764. The other example is the same, but also has a painter’s mark: ‘L’. This allows us to put a name on the painter of the flowers: Louis-Françoise Lécot . He appears in the factory wages lists in 1763, after possible earlier unpaid work as a pupil from about 1761. He worked as a flower painter in 1764 – but is then absent from any reference the following year, giving him the working period 1763-4…. a perfect match for this dish. He does re-appear, after spending 6 years somewhere else, when he is documented as a hard-paste artist in 1771 (as opposed to the soft-paste that was the only body available at Sèvres in the 1760’s). His work is then remarkable and distinct, specialising in dramatic imitation lacquer pieces, with gilt or platinum/silver chinoiseries painted in the highest Rococo manner, or the exotic ‘Etruscan’ grotesques inspired by discoveries in Italy during the 1770’s.
These styles were the latest fashion for the French aristocrats, and bring to mind the lavish productions of the high-end Paris firms competing with Sèvres for the top-end customers. As Sèvres was the King’s factory, he enforced a monopoly on the industry, where colours & gilt decoration was exclusive to his own factory; the loop-hole found by eager factory owners was to attract an aristocratic patron to protect them – Clignancourt was under the protection of the Comet de Provenance (the future Louis XVIII) and Rue Thiroux was under the protection of the Queen, Marie Antoinette. Both produced very high quality hard-paste products in the 1770’s, and would have eagerly employed a Sèvres-trained artist such as Lécot. Locré & Russinger, otherwise known as La Courtille, was another such factory, minus the aristocratic protection; they ran afoul of the King’s Sèvres monopoly, with 2,000 pieces of illegal coloured & gilt porcelain being seized in 1780 – indicating they were producing a large amount of high quality hard-paste wares. Despite this set-back, they continued to make superbly decorated pieces as if nothing had happened….

Could Lécot have spent his time in some such Paris porcelain manufacture, learning the technique for decorating the hard-paste porcelain body? While he was away, Sèvres purchased the recipe for pâte tendre (hard paste) from Pierre-Antoine Hannong, the youngest son of Paul-Antoine Hannong, whose father had established the faience works in Strasbourg in the early 18th century . As often happens with generations, Paul-Antoine made a success of the firm when he introduced the first hard-paste porcelain production in France, in the mid-1750’s. He died in 1769, and his son, Pierre-Antoine became head. Two years later, he sold the secret of Hard-Paste to the Sèvres factory. They took a while, but once the right ingredients were sourced, Hard-Paste was made (alongside Soft-Paste) from the mid 1770’s onward.

Lécot decorated garniture, 1775-6 Christies 2000
A Lécot decorated Sèvres garniture, 1775-6 – sold at Christies NY in 2000 for $1.1 million US….

When he returned in 1771, Lécot was able to paint on the new Hard-Paste body. He worked on some truly impressive hard-paste orders, and all major collections seem to feature his dramatic 1780’s Chinoiseries. This early example of his Soft-Paste work from his brief appearance at Sèvres in 1763-4 is a lovely rarity.

ref. Rosalind Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, Vol. III, pp. 1043-4 for more on Leçot.

Jean Bouchet, active at Sèvres 1757-93

Sèvres coffee can & saucer, scenic panels by Jean Bouchet, dated 1781
Sèvres cup & saucer, scenic panels by Jean Bouchet, dated 1781

This lovely cup and saucer are a ‘recently married’ pair. While the saucer has been in the Rosenberg Reference Collection in Geelong for a while as a fine example of Sèvres, the cup is a recent acquisition; remarkably, it is the same artist at work at Sèvres in the same year, 1781. While there is a difference in the details, the overall harmony makes them a delightful rarity. And of course, they have a story to tell…..

The artist is Jean Bouchet. He used a pictorial mark, a ‘tree’. While in the factory records – and the subsequent publications that used this as their source for what the marks looked like – he carefully drew a realistic tree with roots, trunk and layered foliage, while in practice he simplified it into something that looks like a furry lollypop…. This would have taken much less time & concentration!

The cup and the saucer are both 1781, dated with the same ‘DD’ in a distinct cursive script, the hand-writing of Jean Bouchet; there is also his distinct mark, a tree symbol. He is recorded as active at Sèvres 1763-93, a painter of human figures, landscapes, and flowers. He is very well represented in major collections, with his small landscapes being very appealing to original customers and present-day connoisseurs alike.

Jean Chauvaux jeune‘s ‘bead’ borders

The cup has another painter’s mark also – ‘IN’, the mark of Jean Chauvaux jeune, a gilder active 1765-1802. As there is not a great deal of gilding on the cup, we would suggest he was responsible for the unusual ‘bead necklace’ painting of the borders, where they are given highlights & shadows to make them appear rounded.

The incised workman’s marks 36 & 48a are both recorded by Saville in the Wallace Collection’s catalogue, vol III pp1130&1133. ’36’ is recorded 1770-90’s, while ’48a’ is recorded 1777-92. There are no names associated with these individuals.

In the British Royal Collection, both ’36’ and ’48a’ are present in several assemblages, including a set of very similar cups & saucers from the same period.

Sevres Cup & Saucer By Bouchet 1781
Sevres Cup & a Saucer by Jean Bouchet, 1781. Moorabool Antiques, Geelong

See our cup & saucer here >>

A complete déjeuner by Jean Bouchet, in the V&A Museum, London

It’s rare to see a complete group of porcelain from this era still together. This set in the Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, is a fascinating rarity to study. It was bequeathed to the museum in 2015, and leading expert Rosalind Savill has identified it as one of four déjeuners bought by Christian IV, Duke of Zweibrücken, on the 14th June 1775. This was just 3 days after the event of the decade in France, the coronation of Louis XVI which the Duke naturally attended. Their cost was 840 livres, the equivalent of tens-of-thousands in today’s currency…. an expensive souvenir!

Marks correspond to the piece above. Note no date letters, and only a single artist’s mark. See this at the V&A Museum here >>
1777 Sevres Plate by Michel - explainer -©
1777 Sevres Plate by Ambroise Michel- see below. ©

The marks on Sèvres should follow the rules and be very logical, but in practice they can be quite random. The system was there to provide the company with a way of tracking the various production steps and those responsible for the work: in a perfect scenario, the répareur, or workman who puts it all together, incised his particular mark, and both the artist and the gilder would include their mark. Then the factory mark, the crossed ‘L’s’ for Louis were painted, and inside them the code for the year it was decorated.

As you can see in the dejéuner set examples above, this isn’t always the case: of the nine components of the existing set, just a single example has a painter’s mark, here the ‘tree’ of Jean Bouchet, and none have a year mark! It is only the monogram found on the tray, along with the factory records recording Bouchard’s work on the commission, and the solid provenance that allow this remarkable set to be dated. This helps explain the number of non-conforming Sèvres items we come across, which have no date code or artist’s mark. They were quite probably part of a set where only a few items were marked.

Reference:  Savill, Rosalind: A Sèvres Porcelain Tea Service in the Victoria and Albert Museum with Surprising Credentials, French Porcelain Society Journal, Vol. II, 2005, pp. 39-46.

Of course, fraud is always a concern, and later-decorated pieces can often be non-conforming – but usually, a date code is part of the deception, with the first years ‘A B C’ for 1754, 55 & 56 being the favourite – the trouble is, the style of decoration & object type was often not yet invented at that date, a dead giveaway!

Our Sèvres Stock

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Early Vienna Figures

Early Viennese Porcelain Figures
Vienna Figure Group
Vienna Figure Group circa 1765

The second porcelain manufacturer in Europe after Meissen (1709) was in Vienna, in 1718. While the initial establishment of private businessman du Paquier ultimately declined, it was revived by the state itself in 1744 when Empress Maria Theresa bankrolled the Imperial State Manufactory, Vienna. The blue shield mark came shortly after (sometimes called a beehive, as when viewed upside down it resembles one….).

Vienna figure circa 1765
Vienna figure of ‘Autumn’, circa 1765

This remarkable figure dates to the 1760’s, and along with others in the same theme, would have been part of a grand table decoration for the banquets of an important household. The figures depict idealic ‘pastorale pastimes’, such as the harvesting of grapes seen here, and show us a favourite occupation of the Rococo courts in Europe: dress-up balls.  

Marie Antoinette as a shepherdess is an image well remembered in the present, and such themed events were a common occurrence in the 18th century. Grand balls were held with attendees all dressing in ‘pastorale’ costumes, imaginative interpretations of the life of the ‘common folk’. Imagine such a ball, with an associated dining experience included. Sitting at the table in one’s costume, there was a splendid representation of the pastoral ideal in the form of the colourful figures spread down the tabletop between the guests. They were the perfect conversation starters, and with the lively & expressive interactions of the characters seen in these Viennese figures, no end of witty comments would be possible. 

18th century Viennese Table Figures in use
18th century Viennese Table Figures in use
Vienna Porcelain c.1765
Vienna Porcelain c.1765

This example is one of a group of four figures depicting the seasons. With the grapes being harvested, it is Autumn; in the same Prague collection are two other figure groups matching (the key difference being 3-figures on a single oval base) – ‘Reaper as allegory of summer’ and ‘Ice skater as allegory of Winter’. Missing is a figure of spring; presumably the ladies depicted will have baskets of ‘spring flowers’ or fruits. 

Viennese Porcelain c.1765
Viennese Porcelain c.1765

The modeller who incised ‘Q’ is well represented in any collection with early Vienna figures. 

This example differs very slightly in the construction of the components, with the kneeling woman’s hand resting under the man’s armpit rather than on his coat tail, and her other hand not actually grasping the tool. The colour palette is the same yellow, pink, blue, and tones of green & brown, but the Prague example also includes two instances of gold being used. 

Left: Prague collection Right: Moorabool Antiques, Australia
Left: Prague collection Right: Moorabool Antiques, Australia

The definitive book on these early figures ‘Ceremonies Feasts Costumes : Viennese Porcelain Figures during the reign of Maria Theresia’ is a splendid 2007 publication with large clear illustrations, detailing hundreds of Vienna figures from the 1740’s until the 1780’s. A private businessman, Du Paquier, had started the porcelain works in Vienna as early as 1719 ( making it the second true porcelain manufacturer in Europe, after Meissen), but by 1744 he was financially struggling, and the Viennese State purchased the works. This was of course ruled by Maria Theresia, the Empress of Austria, and she loved a good party… the porcelain works were an excellent source of the needed table wares, and this included table figures.

Refer p148 of this book for an example of the above figure, also the frontispiece of the book; fig. 228 “Wine grower as an allegory of autumn”, c. 1765 (Decorative Arts Museum, Prague).

Viennese Porcelain c.1765
Viennese personalities of the 1760’s.
18th century Viennese Table Figures
Moorabool’s selection of Viennese Porcelain figures, 1760’s.
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2022 Melbourne Antique Fair, Malvern Town Hall

Moorabool Antiques @ Malvern Town Hall

The 2022 AAADA Melbourne Antique Fair is ‘going back to where it began’ – the Malvern Town Hall.

It was here in 1959 that a young John Rosenberg attended, sharing a stand with Geelong antique dealer R G Hamilton, a good friend & influence on the young dealer. He was just 19 – still the youngest age for acceptance into what is now the AAADA.
Today, his son Paul continues the family business – with a stand in almost the same place in the majestically restored main hall.

Moorabool has attended every Association fair since – and 2019 would have been the 60th consecutive – but it was postponed, and 2020 – and 2021 – were victims of restrictions – so this year, 2022, marks Moorabool’s 60th fair.

We’ve had a fantastic few days, a lot of catching up with our Melbourne friends… thank- you for all who said ‘hi’.

We also received a special surprise – there is a new ‘prize’, a silver cup awarded to the ‘most popular’ stand in the fair – ted by the visitors.

We were very surprised to come second – thank-you to all who voted!

Brought to the Fair, Melbourne 2022

These items are a selection of our stock seen at the fair. Use the ‘see all’ button to view the total fair stock.

60/60 AAADA Fairs, Melbourne
From the first ever fair in 1959, Moorabool has not missed a single one! That’s 60/60 in 2022.