This rare piece of Australiana was produced in Melbourne by a local jeweller in solid Sterling Silver to commemorate the legendary ride of J.E. Pike on ‘Phar Lap’ where he won the Melbourne Cup in 1930 by 3 lengths.
Sterling silver medallion with horse & jockey on front framed within a stirrup, engraved on reverse “‘“Phar Lap / Winner 1930 / Melb.Cup / J.E.Pike” , also marked with sculptor’s name ‘Hafner’, and hallmarked ‘925’ & printing press.
The shape is reminiscent of religious pendants made to wear as ‘charms’ – however, the design of this piece has a major flaw that would not make it durable. All other charms have a suspension loop cast into the top: this plaque has a very thin wire loop soldered onto the back. This suggests it is just for short-term use – perhaps so you could pin it to a jacket lapel when you were attending the Melbourne Cup….?
It is certainly a rarity, with just one other example being traced on the market.
The sculptor’s name ‘Hafner’ gives us the context & date for the piece. Emil Hafner (1917-2021) was a post-war immigrant artisan from Czechoslovakia. His speciality was die-casting, and he was responsible for a large number of medals, coins, and commemoratives produced in Melbourne in the second half of the 20th century. Emil Hefner graduated in 1948 at the Art and Trade College in Czechoslovakia. Between 1948 and 1952 he worked as a gun-engraver and die-sinking in Germany and later England. After migrating, he continued his work in Australia with ‘K.G. Luke’ and later with the ‘House of Hawke’, as well as teaching part-time at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) for nine years. He subsequently established his own company, Hafner Mint Manufacturing. This silver medallion, commemorating the 1930 win of Phar Lap, would logically have been made in 1980 – celebrating 50 years since the event.
This flamboyant piece of glass is – believe it or not – Italian! Actually a stunning example of an interesting period in the development of the ‘Murano Glass’ we are familiar with, it dates to the later 19th century years when the revival of the Italian artworks was just beginning. It comes from the workshop of Antonio Salviati (1816-1890), who paired up with an English archaeologist, Sir Austen H. Layard, M.P. (1817-94).
Layard is an interesting character. While considered ‘English’ (sitting in British Government 1852-69), he was raised in Italy, buying a palazzo and living there – but is best known for his travels through Persia in the 1840’s, which resulted in identification and the first excavations in Nineveh, Nimrud, and Babylon. His discoveries form the greater part of the collection in the British Museum. While he was in Venice, he collected early glass and artworks, and came to befriend Salviati – after which they formed a company with one ambition, to revive the golden-days of Venetian glasswork.
The result of this partnership was remarkable. Venetian glass making had stagnated, but they were able to kick-start it again in the later 19th century. They did this by looking backwards to the magnificent original Venetian creations of the 16th and 17th centuries – but as many of the techniques had not been used for generations, they found themselves re-inventing the sometimes very complex recipes from scratch.
This centerpiece is ‘Aventurine’, designed to simulate the semiprecious stone by the same name. It was developed in Venice, with legend of glass-making monks accidentally putting copper shavings into molten glass; however, an early 17th century date is now considered the first production of this glass type. It involves a mixture of copper, iron, and tin oxides, introduced into the glass mixture, which is then fired in a reducing low-oxygen kiln, causing them to form compact crystalline clumps which reflect the light in their unique manner. The new glass structure with the glitter effect is not stable and would deteriorate rapidly in the air, but a method of enclosing it in a layer of clear glass ensures it is preserved.
This large piece was sourced in Melbourne, and may have been here all of its life. The National Gallery of Victoria has a magnificent collection of Venetian 19th century glass, acquired in its early years, with a group of ‘modern’ glass selected for them by Antonio Salviati himself in 1874. When Melbourne hosted the massive 1880-1 International Exhibition, there was a splendid display of Murano glass, with many pieces ending up in the Gallery’s collection where they remain to this day. The Italian glass was highly popular with the Victorians- it was noted for its ‘ethereality’, and ‘might as well be called gossamer glass’ ! It was of course all products of Salviati’s company, the ‘Compagnia Venezia-Murano‘, and it won the highest prize, a gold medal indicating the First Order of Merit.
After the exhibition closed in 1881, 130 pieces were purchased for the Gallery. At the same time, the impressive wealth in Melbourne meant the top-end department stores were also offering these luxury products for sale.
Moorabool is very pleased to offer this remarkable large & early piece of Venetian Glass.
Some more interesting connections, including designs from a design book at the Met Museum, New York.
This extraordinary example of Tournai porcelain shows the quality they were able to produce.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’ !
There’s a splendid pair of Sèvres dishes fresh to Moorabool.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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….).
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.
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.
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.
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).
The miniature portrait-painter of the 18th & 19th centuries was the equivalent of the portrait photographer today. His skills provided a memory of a person by re-creating their likeness – the personalities that smile or scowl from their frames to this day are testimonial to their skills.
There were a large number of them in the Georgian & Victorian eras, some famous and therefore expensive, others unknown and inexpensive. It seems a large number were not signed on the front: however, just occasionally there is an inscription on the back of the work.
A piece purchased recently here in Geelong was just an anonymous gent of the earlier 19th century – until we took the backing off. A large inscription in cursive pinwork met our eye, reading:
“This likeness taken by Mr Betts Artist of Shipston-on-Stour aug 1847 Died Oct 8th 1856 Aged 97 years”
There’s a portion missing – very faintly visible is the trace of an initial and a surname, which unfortunately seems to have been written on the copper fastenings and has not survived. However, it’s the artist in this case that is extremely interesting.
There’s a go-to source for all who love portrait miniatures: the massive online resource of ‘profilesofthepast.org.uk‘. This is a superb study site funded by the UK’s ‘National Lottery Heritage Fund’, and for a decade has been accumulating work on miniature artists. They build on the various works on the subject published in the 20th century – but with the wonder of the internet, are able to update further discoveries / research, with the active encouragement for visitors to upload their own miniatures.
I’ve gone ahead and uploaded this example, as it can now stand as a ‘signature piece’ – meaning other unidentified portrait miniatures could potentially be linked to the mysterious Mr Samuel Betts by comparing them to this piece.
This is of course an anomaly; tea caddies do not appear like this in the 17th century. A casket for precious items or documents would be possible, but tea caddies were not yet invented in the 17th century: tea was stored in metal or glass. The ‘tea caddy’ this piece appears to be would be early 18th century at best, but it is also a bit too small compared to others. The answer to this problem lies in the various documents that came with the box. The original hand-written note explains all:
So who was this Price Rupert of the Rhine? And what exactly was his ‘house’?
The mid 17th century was a time of great turmoil for England, and the English Civil War of 1642-51 involved the struggle for England between those supporting the Monarchy (the ‘Royalists’ or ‘Cavaliers’) and those against (the ‘Parliamentarians’ or ‘Roundheads’). Prince Rupert (1619-82) was a Royalist commander. In his day, and to those generations who remembered the Civil War afterwards, he became something of a celebrity, a dashing ‘Cavalier’.
As his name suggests, he was originally from present day Germany – where his father was Frederick V of the Palatine. His mother was Elizabeth, eldest child of James I – so his English connections were strong, where he had the title Duke of Cumberland. He had been a soldier from 14 in Europe, and when called on by the Royalists in England, rose to the occasion. He became a favorite of James I, rising to the most senior post of command. In 1643, the Roundheads overran Liverpool, and based themselves in the castle. All across the town they dug a series of trenches three meters deep….. and waited. Prince Rupert arrived in early 1644, and promptly brought in his cannon: and so the bombardment began. (18 days later, and less 1500 casualties, he finally took town & castle back for the Royalists). In order to coordinate the siege, he commandeered a house with a decent view over the town, on Everton Brow. It is this house that is described as the source of the wood for this box – a decent medieval merchant’s house rather than a ‘cottage’, having a stone two-story frontage with a large bay window – no doubt of great use as a viewpoint as Prince Rupert planned his attack.
An article in the Illustrated London News, 17 May 1845 illustrates the building, along with its history, noting it had just been demolished as ‘… the modern improvements in the locality …. rendered its removal a matter of necessity, not of taste’ .
This 1845 date of demolition is very interesting; at this time, ‘Antiquarian’ interest in things such as the Civil War and great people like Nelson and Prince Rupert led to a thriving trade in ‘relics’ made from parts of buildings – or in the case of Nelson, his flagship the ‘Victory’. These were often useful items, such as letter openers and snuff boxes. The tea caddy we are examining fits this scenario perfectly, and so we can attribute it to a very clever ‘curio’ creator of the early Victorian period, circa 1845. While the before mentioned relics were made in quantity, the bespoke nature of this piece – and the apparent re-use of original 17th century silver mounts – suggests this is a unique creation.
The other three documents that came with the casket add to the story; Alstons & Hallam goldsmiths & silversmiths, described it as ‘Antique’ and by John Wakelyn – no doubt going by the maker’s marks on the silver mounts, reading ‘IW’ – but this cannot be accurate, as John Wakelyn only registers a similar mark in the 1770’s. This card was probably written close to the date on the other card, 1938 – when ‘Mother’, being Mrs W. G. Hamilton, of Highgate, London, gave it to her child – assumably a son – ‘with love from your father & mother, Christmas 1938’. (‘Hamilton’ is of course an old local Western District surname, local to us in Geelong where this piece was found, and so a likely reason for this piece appearing in Australia).
What a fascinating character Prince Rupert was! The British Museum states that he was “….highly intellectual with artistic and scientific interests; played an important role in the development of mezzotint as well as experimenting with gunpowder, metallurgy, gunnery, glass manufacture etc.”
He is a very familiar face for anyone who has studied the history of early English ceramics: he was a celebrity in the days of the fabulous John Dwight of Fulham and his sophisticated pottery works. He produced a massive almost life-size bust of the Prince in around 1680, in high-fired stoneware – an extraordinary feat that now resides in the British Museum.
Also the British Museum, there is a magnificent bracket clock that was apparently designed by him, and dozens of his engravings and lithographic prints. I’ve put a few in the gallery below. These are fascinating, showing his strong interest in the arts. A box such as this one is a fine tribute to him indeed!
Lavish is the word that best describes this Flight Worcester plate. It’s from the ‘Hope’ service, ordered in 1789 by William Henry, the Duke of Clarence, who was the third son of King George III and eventual inheritor of the British throne at the age of 64 after both brothers died without heirs.
The subject was chosen by him, and reflects his military career. Each piece has a different rendition of ‘Hope’ with her anchor, with a ship in the background. He had joined the Royal Navy in his youth, serving in North America and the Caribbean under Nelson. Nicknamed the ‘Sailor King’ when he came to the throne, it is little wonder he chose this nautical theme for his service.
Securing the service commission was a major event for the ailing Worcester factory, which had been purchased by John Flight in 1783. It was William’s second commission from the factory, the first being the ‘St Andrew’ service, celebrating his achievement of the Order of St Andrew, earlier in 1789.
John Flight recorded in his diary in January 1790:
‘We used our two best painters last week to make some very fine designs for the Duke of Clarence, we have already completed 3 plates and I have sent them to London. One is a gold arabesque design, another the figure of Hope, the other of Patience.’
A few days later on 24th January John Flight added:
‘Apart from the two plates mentioned… we have made two others with figures, Peace and Plenty. H.R.H. Duke of Clarence has decided on the Hope design with the decoration that we put on the Peace plate, he has ordered a table service that will amount to more than £700 sterling. He has given us a year in which to complete it…’
It is interesting to track down some original tabloid gossip from the period:
This news article intended to impress, inflating the price and the number of pieces. The comment about it being ‘particularly appropriate to the nautical profession of the royal proprietor …’ is interesting, as William was indeed a Navy officer. His father George III had determined he should join the Royal Navy, and so he entered the navy at 13 as a midshipman. He saw active service in the War of American Independence (targeted in a kidnap plot by an agent of George Washington in New York, 1782!), and became a friend of Nelson. He was placed on the Warwick under Captain George Keith Elphinstone, and spent time in the Caribbean. In 1789 he returned to England, where his father the King’s health was failing, but although he received promotions to rear-admiral, vice-admiral, and in 1799 admiral, the navy refused his pleas for a return to active service. When he gained the throne in 1830, he was affectionately known as ‘The Sailor King’.
Another news article, in the ‘Derby Mercury’ in 1791, quotes the same inflated price – 800 Guineas (more than the £700 Flight recorded in his journal) – but gets the number of pieces right at 296. The story related of his ‘Blue-blooded Britishness’ is fantastic – if it happened. He was offered a set of ‘Avignon China’ (French porcelain of some type) he refused, saying while OTHERS may be happy with foreign products, he wouldn’t even accept a piece of furniture that wasn’t British!
The back of this plate has a large pasted label, which declares the following:
Hope Service Label
Specimen of the Celebrated Service of Old Worcester
Porcelain, made and presented to Lord Nelson by the
Nation, bequeathed by him to King William the Fourth
who gave it to his son Lord Frederick Fitzclarence
and in whose Will the full particulars are given –
It passed by marriage to the Earl of Erol and was
his up to May 1893 when it was dispersed at Christies
and realised nearly the sum of £2000.
This is of course different to what has been described at the top of this page, and is a fascinating example of mis-information. This old label provides us with the source of this mis-information, the Christies auction which dispersed the service in 1893. They of course got their information from the Earl of Erol, who had inherited it from his father, the illegitimate son of William IV, Fitzclarence. It was in this will that ‘the particulars’ were given, and so the confusion appears to have arisen right back then, just the next generation from when it was a wonderful new service that impressed the nation.
The Royal French porcelain manufactory at Sèvres was well patronized by the French court, and the pieces they created were meant to be the most flamboyant and impressive luxuries imaginable. This pink ground cup & saucer certainly qualifies.
Important Sèvres cup and saucer, goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur , superbly painted by Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné), with four panels of birds in landscapes, framed within rich tooled gold borders against a ground of blue and gold oeil-de-perdrix on a pink ground.
Crossed ‘L’s’ mark,
also date letter ‘M’ for 1765,
‘cp’ for artist Antoine-Joseph Chappuis (aîné),
incised cup repairer’s mark ‘00’ & ‘ae’
Madame de Pompadour was probably responsible for the inception of this unusual form of saucer, with its deep well ensuring the cup cannot be easily upset. The form appears in 1753, and as she was failing in health with tuberculosis, a socketed saucer negated the risk of spilling her drink due to a shaking hand or coughing fit. Factory records show that all examples of this type made were purchased by her until her death in 1764. The next recorded sale was in October 1765 to Princess Louise-Marie of France, youngest daughter of Louis XV. Its present whereabouts are unrecorded, and this example has a high possibility of being the goblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur in question.
They were one-off products, and examples vary wildly in decoration. An example in the Getty Museum is thought to have belonged to Madame de Pompadour. It has a saucer with an unknown repairer’s mark (00), the same as on this cup. The gilding appears on numerous examples from this period, often with small inconsistencies such as can be seen in the above detail, where the gold doesn’t quite cover the ground.
The artist Chappuis ‘l’aîne’ was a long-term employee at Sèvres, being apprenticed as a répareur (maker) in 1756, became a painter in 1761, became the deputy ‘head of kilns’ in 1782 , andin charge of the kilns for the final year of his life in 1787.
His wonderfully vivid birds are distinct amongst the Sèvres artists repertoire, and a piece such as this importantgoblet et soucoup enfoncé, premiere grandeur show Sèvres at its best.
Provenance: The Antique Porcelain Company, NY
Similar gilding canseen on a can & saucer in the British Museum, #110 in Dawson’s book ‘French Porcelain in the British Museum’, also #112.
An écoulle, cover & stand with the same decoration was sold as part of the Giuseppe Rossi collection, Sothebys London 1999 lot 518