Swansea Tureen & cover, ‘Curtis’ botanical, circa 1820
Rare Swansea tureen & cover, hand painted with botanical specimens, the twin furniture-like handles richly gilt, a pinecone know to the lid with beading & similarly gilt, a band of fruiting hops to the sharp shoulder.
Red script marks for botanical names, including –
Lid: “Black Flower’d Lotus” (Curtis No. 79, 1789)
Base: “Winged Leav’d Ipomoea” (Curtis No.244, 1793)
“Three Coloured Crane’s Bill” (Curtis No.240, 1793)
Excellent condition with very minor gold loss
18.5cm across at handles, 15cm high
Botanicals were a favorite at Swansea, and we find two categories; the entirely freehand-painted, and the ‘coloured in’ where a black outline is printed, then painted. Examination under magnification reveals which an example is, and this tureen is entirely hand painted.
There were a number of artists who produced these botanicals; the ‘coloured-in’ examples were possible with little painting skill, just a steady hand: The Curtis publication “The Botanical Magazine; or Flower-Garden Displayed” was all carefully painted in the correct colours by watercolour artists, and so could be accurately copied by the unskilled. Freehand painting such as seen on this tureen, however, was a definite skill, and several distinct hands can be seen at work. We have an exceptionally good clue to some of these painter’s identities, as they always placed the common botanical name on the back in red script – and the art of Graphology, the studying hand-writing, can therefore sometimes give us a name.
Thomas Pardoe had been painting stylized flowers at the Swansea Pottery in the last years of the 18th century, but turned his hand to careful Botanicals on both porcelain and pottery in the first years of the 19th century. He was not a scholar, and his hand-writing is varied, often hurried & haphazard.
William Western Young was another artist often attributed to Botanicals. His hand writing is very refined, with thick lettering all done individually and precise.
This handwriting is very well done, and probably belongs to an ‘unidentified’ Swansea artist.