Cup and saucer, bone china, made by Worcester Porcelain Factory, England, c. 1770
This cup and saucer were made in around 1770 by the Worcester porcelain factory in England. The pieces are typical of the factory's popular range of wares that featured exotic landscapes, images of birds or oriental patterns against a dark blue ground. Dramatic and opulent, they were designed to complement the sumptuous interior decoration of the French Rococo style.
The artistic and commercial success of this range was due largely to the imagination and resourcefulness that underpinned its development. Worcester had a thorough understanding of its market, and designed these wares to be of a high quality, aesthetically appealing and available to a broad section of society rather than just the wealthy elite. Other porcelain factories, including Bow, Derby, Champion's Bristol, Pennington's Liverpool and West Pans, copied the style but did not achieve the same result or the same commercial success as their Worcester rival.
The origins of Worcester blue grounds were diverse, and included late seventeenth century Chinese porcelain as well as pieces by Meissen and Sèvres. However, the most immediate influence came from the Chelsea factory that competed with Worcester for control of the upper end of the porcelain market. Chelsea produced a range of late Rococo items with striking grounds in a claret and a dark blue glaze, called 'Mazarine bleu'. Instead of directly imitating these products, Worcester responded with its own forms and its distinctly dark blue underglaze. The range was most popular from the mid 1760s through to the late 1770s when the factory began to produce its fashionable blue bordered wares.
This cup and saucer were manufactured in around 1770 by the Worcester porcelain factory in England. The dry bodies were painted with a blue underglaze and fired. They were then glazed, re-fired and hand-painted in other colours. The pieces were fired a third time, fusing the colours to the glaze. Gilt details were applied, and the cup and saucer were fired a final time.
This cup and saucer were 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, transfering a portion to the Powerhouse Museum.