Comport, mould-pressed glass, Crystal Glass Ltd., Sydney, Australia, 1924
This comport belongs to the Bill Chapman Collection. Collected mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, the majority of objects from the collection illustrate the use of Australian imagery in ceramics, glass and metalwork made either in Britain for the Australian market, or in Australia, in the late 19th century and in the first part of the 20th century.
Australian and English manufacturers of decorative arts became interested in Australian flora and fauna motifs in the early 19th century. From the mid 1850s, following the discovery of gold in Australia in 1851, they began using Australian imagery on a larger scale - among the most striking early examples were silver presentation pieces and gold jewellery. In the late 19th century and in the decades that followed Australia's Federation in 1901, a number of ceramics decorated with Australian motifs were produced in Britain. Wedgwood, Doulton and Worcester in particular designed and made series of wares mostly destined for the Australian market. These tablewares were sold by local retailers for example Sydney's Flavelle Bros, Feldheim Gotthelf and Co and Anthony Horden. Australian firms often copied English designs, particularly those transfer-printed at Doulton.
Australian flora motifs were also used extensively by local china painters, mostly women who attended art classes at technical colleges and who belonged to the various Arts and Crafts Societies set up in the early years of the new century (from 1906). Using porcelain blanks from Britain and Europe, they hand-painted vases, bowls and tea sets with a range of designs. Several Sydney china painters are represented in this collection. Local commercial potteries, which specialised in moulded earthenwares, also often drew on Australian flora and fauna for their designs. Very popular in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, these wares were frequently influenced by the Art Deco style. From the 1920s some ceramics decorated with Australian motifs were made in small studios by ceramic teachers and artists, for example by Carolyne M Ogilvie and Ethel Atkinson whose works are represented in this collection. There was also some interest in Australian imagery in the local glass industry. Between 1910 and 1920 in particular, many jugs, vases and tumblers were engraved with Australian wildflowers and birds. More common was press-moulded glassware decorated with kookaburras, kangaroos, waratahs and other native flowers, produced in the following decades.