Mug, soaprock porcelain, made by Royal Worcester Porcelain Co Ltd, England, 1756-1768
English porcelain factory, Worcester, made this transfer printed, bell shape mug probably between 1756 and 1768, during the Rococo Influence phase of its transfer printed designs. The transfer printing process revolutionised the English ceramic industry when decoration no longer needed to be applied laboriously by hand. Engraver, Robert Hancock, introduced the process to Worcester along with a range of distinctive decorations of French influence. This marked a creative and lucrative period for the company that surpassed all other English factories which produced these wares.
Transfer printed decoration presented many advantages over hand painting, enabling greater depth, perspective and detail. Worcester produced elegant forms with decorations that originated from contemporary, romantic artworks and depicted fashionable and genteel pastimes.
Worcester introduced the bell or baluster shape mug in around 1752, and continued to manufacture this item until the 1770s. It was regularly decorated with transfer printed designs that commemorated important events in Europe, such as the death of George II in 1760, and the marriage of George III and Queen Charlotte in 1761.
This transfer printed mug was made by the English porcelain factory, Worcester, probably between 1756 and 1768. Worcester employed two transfer printing processes both of which involved the engraving of a design onto a copper plate. In the first process, the contours of the engraved plate were filled with special oil and coated with a jelly-like glue that adhered the oil to the porcelain surface. A finely-powdered enamel colour was then dusted onto the oil, and the piece was fired to transfer the design permanently to the porcelain object.
The second, more sophisticated method was used most commonly at the Worcester factory. In this process, the contours of the copper plate were filled with mixture of enamel colouring and oil, with the excess being wiped away. The copper plate was then heated and covered with a thin film of tissue paper that was applied to the porcelain surface. The paper was washed off, leaving behind the coloured design, and the porcelain piece was then fired.
This mug was transferred to the Powerhouse Museum in 1998 as part of the collection that Annie Maria Gillies (Mrs Sinclair Gillies) bequeathed to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1953. This collection consisted of around 191 objects, including important examples of eighteenth-century English furniture and porcelain. The Gallery never accessioned these items, and decided to sell the majority in 1997, transferring a portion to the Powerhouse Museum.