1830's early French Limoges Baby in Basket w/Bird Transferware Plate
A beautiful early French hard paste porcelain blue, white and gold gilt transferware plate. It has a stunning 19th century centre image of a baby in a basket holding a tether to a flying bird, which appears as an iconic gesture. Does this have to do with early mourning? It is unknown, but striking. The transferware pattern design is in a deep black, the ink a bit "raised" when touched. It is a very detailed, fine execution. See photos.
Hard paste porcelain was produced in China in the 7-8th century and has been commonly known as "China" through the ages. There are differing opinions as to which German first solved the secret Chinese porcelain formula in Europe between Johann Friedrich Böttger 1682-1719 of Meissen in 1708 or Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus 1651-1708. The Meissen porcelain factory is accepted as the first company to actually manufacture porcelain in quantity for the masses. The porcelain is fired at a much higher temperature than soft paste porcelain, and is extremely hard and thus extremely durable. The ingredients basically melt at the high temperature and meld into a very dense and strong porcelain, which, when thin enough, light can actually pass through. The decorative colours lie on top of the glaze as in this piece. When it chips, hard paste shatters more like glass. There is evidence that the English attempted to make hard paste prior to 1800, although most English pottery is soft paste.
We believe this piece was made in Limoges, France in circa 1820-40, where we see early similar black and white transfer pieces of this origin. It has an impressed V on the reverse, as seen in photos.
Just as a general note, the use of "wells" or the depression in saucers to better hold a cup are considered a 19th century invention, and a good way to date pieces. In the antique pottery world, saucers with "wells" are generally considered to have been first produced in the late Georgian, Regency era, to the early Victorian era, 1820-40. This attribute has continued on until today.
It was found in Totnes, Devon, England. It is unusual, rare and an uncommon image. There are no chips, cracks or repairs although there is worn gilding around edges from hand use, and some fine scratches in the thick bright blue band. Any other imperfections are simply in the original firing process. A small, beautiful and exceedingly uncommon piece of 19th century Continental made china.
Size: 6 and 3/8 inches in diameter.
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Book: Anthology of British Cups, Michael Berthoud 1982 (Coffee Cans too)