The porcelain made in Italy in the eighteenth century is not of much
importance either from a technical or an artistic point of view. With
the exception of the Capo di Monte ware and its imitations, examples are
rarely found in English collections. On the whole the decoration is poor
in effect, and closely follows in the wake of the German wares. This is
the case at least with most of the porcelain made in the north of Italy.
Following, probably unconsciously, the example of the early Medici ware,
the refractory element in the eighteenth-century porcelain of Italy has
generally been found in a natural kaolinic clay which here replaces the
quartz-sand and the lime of the French soft paste, and it is this
peculiarity in their composition which led Brongniart to form a special
class for what he called the hybrid pastes of Italy.

VENICE.–There is, as we have seen, strong evidence that porcelain was
made in Venice in the sixteenth century, but such evidence is,
unfortunately, only documentary. We are in almost as bad a position when
we come to the ware manufactured in the city, perhaps as early as 1720,
by the Vezzi, a family of lately ennobled goldsmiths (see Sir W. R.
Drake, _Notes on Venetian Ceramics_, London, 1868, privately printed).


ware was made by Saxon workmen with clay obtained from Saxony. To this
factory, however, we can safely attribute the tall cup and saucer, with
the arms of Benedict XIII. (1724-30), and the mark ‘Ven^a’ (PL. D. 63),
in the Franks collection (No. 446).

At this time Hunger, the Saxon painter and gilder, was in Venice. He was
already back at Meissen in 1725, and Dr. Brinckmann thinks that he may
have brought back from Venice the process of passing the gilding through
the muffle, which about that time replaced, at Meissen, the older plan
of ‘lac-gilding.’ The Vezzi works were closed in 1740, and not till 1758
do we hear of fresh attempts to imitate the Meissen ware. This time it
was a Saxon family driven out from Meissen by the war, one Hewelcke and
his wife, who set up a short-lived factory in which they attempted to
make porcelain ‘_ad uso di Sassonia_.’

It was probably with the assistance of Hewelcke that Geminiano Cozzi in
1764 established the porcelain works where (as we learn from the report
drawn up by the _Inquisitor alle Arti_ a few years later) he gave
employment to forty-five workmen. Cozzi made porcelain ‘_ad uso di
Giappone_,’ much of which was exported to Trieste and the Levant.[200]
This ware, decorated in Oriental style, must have been made exclusively
for the trade with the East, for, to judge from the specimens in our
museums, it was rather the ware of Meissen than that of Imari that Cozzi
took as his model. We find on his porcelain small views, especially
coast-scenes and ports, outlined in black and gold; again, on tea-and
coffee-services, flower-pieces and _chinoiseries_. He turned out also
some biscuit and glazed statuettes of considerable merit. Cozzi’s
factory survived until 1812. An anchor in red, larger than that used at
Chelsea, and of a different shape, is the mark usually found on this
china[201] (PL. D. 64).

LE NOVE.–A Venetian family, the Antonibon, had early in the eighteenth
century established an important manufactory of majolica at Le Nove,
near Bassano. Later on they turned their attention to porcelain and,
after the year 1760, Pasquale Antonibon produced some successful ware
marked with a star (PL. D. 65). One or two well modelled and carefully
finished specimens of this porcelain at South Kensington show the
influence of both Meissen and Sèvres. These works were in operation as
late as 1825.

VINOVO.–In the royal castle of Vinovo or Vineuf, near Turin, some
unsuccessful endeavours to manufacture porcelain were made with the help
of one of the younger Hannongs of Strassburg. A Turin doctor, Vittore
Amadeo Gioanetti, who had already made numerous experiments with the
clays and rocks of the district, met with better success about 1780. The
paste of this ware contains a considerable amount of silicate of
magnesia, obtained from a deposit of magnesite discovered in the
neighbourhood by the doctor.[202] This hybrid ware is more easily
fusible than a true porcelain, but it resists well rapid variations of
temperature. The usual mark is the letter V surmounted by the cross of
the house of Savoy (PL. D. 66).

CAPO DI MONTE.–Here in the northern suburbs of Naples, just beneath the
Royal Palace, an important factory of soft-paste porcelain was
established in 1742. Don Carlos, of Bourbon-Farnese extraction, had
recently exchanged his dukedom of Parma for the throne of the Two
Sicilies. In 1738 he had married a Saxon princess, but there is little
sign of any German influence either in the design or composition of the
ware made at his new porcelain factory at Capo di Monte. Like his cousin
at Versailles at a later date, he took the keenest interest in the sale
of his porcelain. An annual fair was held in front of the palace, and a
large purchase there was a sure passport to the favour of the king, who
is even said to have worked as a potter himself. When in 1759 Don Carlos
succeeded to the throne of Spain as Charles III., he, as it were,
carried his porcelain works with him, taking away the best workmen, so
that little of interest was made at Naples after that date.

To this earlier period belong the plain white pieces often in imitation
of sea-shells, or again resting on a heap of smaller shells moulded
probably from nature (a very similar ware was made at Bow and other
English factories). We find also highly coloured statuettes and groups
of figures. But the name of Capo di Monte is associated above all with
another style of decoration. The surface of the ware in this case is
covered by groups of figures, mythological subjects by preference, and
by vegetation, moulded in low relief and delicately coloured. This was
the ware imitated at Doccia in later days, and also, it would seem, at
Herend, in Hungary. But perhaps the most characteristic pieces then made
at Naples are the little detached figures, generally grotesques,
delicately modelled and painted (PL. XLII.).

In this Capo di Monte porcelain we may note generally the prevalence of
extreme rococo forms. The glaze of the white ware has a pleasant warm
tone resembling that of some of the Fukien porcelain, which may in part
have served as a model.

When the factory was re-established first at Portici and then again at
Naples, a very different influence is perceptible. There is a service at
Windsor presented by the King of Naples to George III. in 1787,
decorated with ‘_peintures Hetrusques_,’ that is to say, with
reproductions of antiques in the Museo Borbonico. This later ware
generally bears as a mark an N surmounted by a crown.

DOCCIA.–The interest of the factory at Doccia, some five miles to the
west of Florence, where majolica and many varieties of porcelain have
been made for the last one hundred and seventy years, centres round the
Ginori family. The founder of those works, the Marchese Carlo
Ginori,[203] who belonged to an old Florentine family, was sent, in
1737, by the Grand Duke on a diplomatic mission to the Emperor Francis
I. He had already, at his villa near Sesto, succeeded in making some
imitations of Oriental porcelain, and on his return from Vienna he
brought back with him the arcanist Carl Wandhelein. With his assistance
Ginori was able in a short time to turn out some well modelled
statuettes. The paste, however, was not very white or uniform, and the
larger pieces are generally disfigured by fissures. To this time belongs
probably a large statuette of a crouching Venus at South Kensington.
This kind of ware had its inspiration, no doubt, in the ambitious
attempts to replace the works of the sculptor with which the Meissen
factory was occupied about this time. Ginori was soon after appointed
Governor of Leghorn,[204] and he is said to have despatched a vessel to
China expressly to bring back the kaolin of that country.

[Illustration: _PLATE XLII._ 1, 2 AND 3–CAPO DI MENTE 4–DOCCIA]

The works at Doccia and the schools and museums attached to them are
frequently referred to by our eighteenth century travellers. There
appears to have been a period of decline, as was not unnatural, during
the Napoleonic wars, but by the early part of the nineteenth century the
factory at Doccia had become one of the most important in Europe. On the
death of the founder, in 1757, the works had been carried on by his son
Lorenzo, and he in his turn was succeeded by Carlo Leopoldo, who
introduced a new type of furnace. This remarkable dynasty of noble
potters has carried on the Doccia works to the present day.

Beside a large outturn of enamelled fayence and of hard porcelain, _ad
uso di Francia_, a milder or hybrid type of paste has been largely made,
and the materials have been obtained from many sources, native and
foreign. The dealers’ shops in Italy have been inundated with imitations
of the old majolica, and with the help of moulds obtained from the
moribund Capo di Monte works, close imitations of that ware have long
been made at Doccia. Indeed the bulk of the porcelain decorated with
mythological figures in low relief (more especially the larger pieces so
often seen in dealers’ shops and in salerooms) has its origin in Tuscany
rather than at Naples.

The mark, a star formed of two superimposed triangles, is derived from
the arms of the family, but this mark has often been omitted.

In the eighteenth century many kinds of ware were imitated; the plain
white porcelain is, however, the most interesting, such as the already
mentioned statuettes and the imitations of the Fukien ware, specimens of
which were sent by Sir Horace Mann to Walpole in 1760. This kind of ware
is whiter and of a more dead aspect than that made at Naples and at Buen
Retiro. In the Franks collection are specimens from an interesting
series of small medallions with portraits of the grand ducal and other
families, in white relief on a grey-blue ground. These were made at
Doccia, probably towards the end of the eighteenth century.


BUEN RETIRO.–During the sixteenth century we have frequent references
to the importation of Oriental porcelain into the Peninsula–the white
ware of Fukien is said to have been above all prized. In the seventeenth
century we find Portuguese travelling merchants selling porcelain at the
fair of St. Germain, and we hear that their stalls were visited by
people of quality from Paris. (_Cf._ p. 230.)

But this ware of the Far East has left little or no mark upon the
fayence or porcelain made in Spain. In the former, at least, the
influence of the nearer Saracenic East has always remained
predominant.[205] The porcelain fever that raged at times in the rest of
Europe seems to have left Spain untouched until the advent of the
half-French, half-Italian king in 1759. Charles III., who abandoned his
Neapolitan throne in that year to succeed his brother as King of Spain,
was on the whole the best of the many descendants of Louis XIV. who
ruled in France, Spain, and Italy in the eighteenth century. We have
seen that he was an enthusiastic potter, and his first care, even before
leaving Naples, was to see to the transhipping to Spain of practically
the whole of the staff, to say nothing of the moulds and other
appliances in use at the Capo di Monte factory. Don Juan Riaño, in his
_Handbook of Spanish Arts_, gives the names of nineteen modellers and
fourteen painters who sailed for Alicante in a vessel specially
chartered for this purpose. Among these Italian emigrants two names are
worthy of mention–Buonicelli–he and his son after him superintended
the new works till the end of the century–and Gricci (there were three
men of this name among the modellers), the designer of the famous
porcelain chamber at Aranjuez.

The new factory, known as La China, was erected in the garden of the
Buen Retiro, a palace in the suburbs of Madrid. Here for the next thirty
years, that is until the death of Charles III. in 1788, supported by a
large yearly grant, and surrounded by the strictest secrecy, was made
the porcelain destined for the decoration of the royal palaces and for
presentation to other courts. Only in the time of Joseph, Napoleon’s
brother, and of Ferdinand VII., was the ware from the royal works
allowed to come into the market, and this was at a period of decline.
The Buen Retiro gardens were the scene of desperate fighting between the
English and the French in the year 1812, during which the porcelain
works were completely destroyed.

We hear, at the commencement, of quarrels between the Spanish and
Italian workmen, and of breakdowns in the kilns. But Charles and his
director, Buonicelli, must soon have surmounted the preliminary
difficulties, for already, during the years 1763 to 1765 (as we learn
from an inscription on one of the slabs), Giuseppe Gricci was occupied
in decorating the porcelain chamber, the famous _Gabineto_ of the palace
at Aranjuez, which surpassed in magnificence the earlier room of the
same description at Portici. The large plaques which surround this
chamber are decorated with groups of Japanese figures in high relief,
carefully modelled and painted. Between these plaques rise tall
looking-glasses brought from the king’s new glass-works at La Granja,
and the porcelain frames of these mirrors are elaborately decorated with
fruits and flowers. There is another of these porcelain cabinets in the
Royal Palace at Madrid; this time the plaques are ornamented with
children in high relief. Here and in the other Spanish palaces, at
Aranjuez, at La Granja, and at the Escurial, may still be seen vases of
porcelain from Buen Retiro, some of them six or seven feet in height.
These vases are often set in gilt bronze mountings and filled with
branches of porcelain flowers.

Among the specimens of Spanish porcelain that we see in English
collections, it is the plain white ware that interests us most. This is
of a very beautiful warm tint, and the vases are surrounded by _amorini_
in full relief among flowers, or again by sea-shells modelled from
nature, as in the case of the Capo di Monte ware. But many other things
were made–imitations of Wedgwood, for example, white relief on a dull
blue ground.

In its last days the factory fell under French influence, and an attempt
was made to imitate the hard paste of Sèvres with the aid of native
clays. It would seem that some of the paste made at an earlier time was
of a hybrid nature, containing magnesia, like that of Vinovo.

The factory was re-established by Ferdinand VII. after his restoration,
at the Moncloa, near Madrid, but with little success. Close at hand, at
La Florida, near the well-known Paseo, an attempt has been lately made
to revive the works. Zuluaga, the famous metal-worker, has interested
himself in these new works, but the ware made is of little interest.

The fleur-de-lis of the Bourbons, generally painted in blue under the
glaze, is the only mark that need be mentioned; it is probable that this
mark was already in use at Naples (PL. D. 67).

At Alcora, in the province of Valencia, the Conde d’Aranda had
established an important factory of artistic fayence as early as the
year 1725. Aranda played no small part in the short-lived revival of
prosperity in Spain that followed the accession of Charles III. In 1764
we find him sending to Dresden for an arcanist, and in 1774 he obtained
the services of a French expert, one Martin, from Sèvres. Each in his
turn covenanted with the count to make true porcelain, and we are told
that he sent specimens of his ware to his friend Voltaire at Ferney. Don
Juan Riaño gives a full account of this factory, but there do not seem
to be any specimens of Aranda’s wares in English collections that are
anything better than a fine fayence.

In the Museo Arqueologico at Madrid there is a large collection of
porcelain and fayence from Buen Retiro, La Moncloa, Alcora, and

PORTUGAL.–Some hard-paste porcelain was made at Lisbon before the year
1775, and at Vista Alegre, near Oporto, the factory started about 1790
is still carried on. Certain medallions of biscuit porcelain, in the
style of Wedgwood, have found their way into the Schreiber and Franks
collections. To judge from an inscription on a minute plaque suitable
for setting in a ring, in the latter collection, these medallions were
made at the Royal Arsenal at Lisbon in 1792.

In spite of the considerable literature that has sprung up upon the
subject, we know little of the early history of English soft-paste

We have already spoken of the experiments made by Dr. Dwight in the
seventeenth century. Dr. Lister, writing in 1699 (see above, p. 282),
shows a remarkable acquaintance with the technical qualities of various
kinds of porcelain: he speaks of ‘the inward Substance and Matter of the
Pots’ made at Saint-Cloud as the very same as that of the Chinese, ‘hard
and fine as Marble, and the self-same grain _on this side
vitrification_. Further, the transparency of the Pots the very same.’ He
had expected that at best they ‘might have arrived at the Gomron ware,
which is indeed little else but a total vitrification.’[206] The man who
wrote this must have been thoroughly acquainted with the physical
qualities of porcelain; he must already have made some study of the
subject. And yet not only at that time, but for the next forty-five
years, there is a total absence of any evidence, documentary or
practical, that porcelain was made anywhere in England.[207]

Meantime new porcelain works were springing up in various parts of
Germany, and in France the factories of Saint-Cloud and Chantilly had
long been at work. It is indeed from a French document that we get our
first hint as to the existence of porcelain works in England before the
year 1745. In an ‘_arrest du Conseil d’État du Roy_’ of that year, by
which Charles Adam is authorised to establish a porcelain factory at
Vincennes, a note of alarm is sounded. ‘A new establishment that has
lately been founded in England for the manufacture of porcelain, which
appears by the nature of its composition more beautiful than that of
Saxony,’ will probably, so the document states, lead to the new English
ware replacing that of French origin (Marryat, p. 371).

For one reason or another there appears to have been a great outburst of
interest in porcelain about the year 1745. The works at Bow were
probably started at that time. There are in existence dated pieces of
that year which were almost certainly made at Chelsea, and these were no
first efforts. As early as this, some porcelain figures may possibly
have been made at Derby,[208] so that we may perhaps take the ten years
preceding 1750 as the period during which the industry was obscurely
passing through its experimental stage. After this time, those who had
been first in the field reaped a good harvest, for during the next
decade the china mania was at its height, and afforded much material for
the satirical and comic writers of the day.

To sum up the history of English porcelain in the eighteenth century, we
may take it that about the year 1740 the first attempts were made to
imitate the various kinds of Oriental and Continental porcelain that
were every year coming more and more into use; that by the year 1750
several factories were at work; and finally, that by 1780 the best had
already been accomplished, and the decline had already begun.

Taken as a whole, our English porcelain, whether of soft or hard paste,
shows little originality. From the point of view of design and
decoration we may divide the ware made during the eighteenth century
into two schools:–

(_a_) The Oriental school, the wares principally imitated being–1. The
white porcelain of Fukien, with decoration in relief, often of prunus
blossom. 2. ‘Blue and white,’ the blue under the glaze–this is often
combined with the previous class. 3. The earlier type of Imari, that
known at the time as ‘old Japan,’ or ‘partridge and wheatsheaf.’ 4. The
somewhat later type of Imari with brocaded pattern, what we _now_ call
‘old Japan.’ The enamelled wares of the great revival under Kang-he and
his successors, though valued by collectors both here and in France,
were less often copied.

(_b_) The European school, which derived its inspiration from–1. The
early wares of Saint-Cloud, and later from those of Vincennes and
Sèvres. Speaking generally, the influence of Sèvres became predominant
after 1755, and to some extent ousted the earlier Oriental _motifs_. 2.
Dresden, which gave the type for the statuettes and also for the
elaborate painting of flowers and realistic landscapes on plates and
dishes. This German influence, favouring a dullish scheme of colour and
a ‘tight’ execution, was more apparent at an earlier and again at a
later period; during the best time, say from 1755 to 1770, it was
eclipsed by that of Sèvres.

It must be remembered that England is the only country where porcelain
has been successfully made without royal or princely patronage. The
various kilns were here without exception founded as commercial
speculations–they were essentially the outcome of middle-class
enterprise. There was, it is true, at one time some question at Chelsea
of royal patronage, as represented by the Duke of Cumberland, but this
came to nothing. Some interest was taken and some advice given on the
artistic side by one or two great noblemen–by the third Duke of Argyll,
for instance, an admirer of the ‘Kakiyemon’ decoration–but the capital
to start and maintain the works came from the pockets of the more
enterprising and businesslike of the designers and decorators
themselves, men like Sprimont and Duesbury, assisted by local bankers,
merchants, and physicians.

As a result, we find that a great feature in the commercial management,
one that was quite peculiar to our island, was formed by the annual
sales by auction, advertised beforehand in the local papers. It was by
careful search through these advertisements and through the old sale
catalogues that the late Mr. Nightingale was able to clear up some at
least of the difficulties and misconceptions that have surrounded the
history of English porcelain. The too ready acceptance of anecdotes and
‘pleasant stories,’ copied from one writer to another with occasional
embellishments, has been the cause of much confusion. These have
originated in many cases from the senile gossip of decayed workmen. The
same may be said of the disproportionate attention given to marks, to
which more care has been given than to a critical discrimination of the
differences that distinguish the paste, the glaze, and the decoration of
different wares.

How little was known a few years ago about the composition of our
English porcelains is shown by the general acceptance of the statement
that Spode, about the year 1800, introduced the use of bone-ash. It is
now known that nearly fifty years before that time the use of a
phosphatic paste was general in England, and, according to Professor
Church, in ninety per cent. of the specimens in our collections
bone-ash is an essential constituent. Thus the one original discovery
that we can claim for our country was either forgotten or ignored.

Apart from the hard porcelain of Plymouth and Bristol, our English
pastes may be divided into three classes. That first used was probably
copied as closely as possible from the pastes of Saint-Cloud and
Chantilly. It was a mixture of sand from Alum Bay and pipeclay from
Dorsetshire, with an amount of glass, in the form of a frit, sufficient
to ensure translucency. Before long the sand and clay were replaced in
great measure by bone-ash, and we get the ‘natural soft paste’
especially characteristic of English eighteenth century porcelain.
Finally, at the beginning of the next century Spode replaced the glassy
frit by a mixture of kaolin and china-stone, retaining the bone-ash. A
paste of this type has been in use ever since. Thus, in the year 1840,
the ordinary commercial porcelain of Staffordshire, which in its origin
was a development of the artistic wares of the eighteenth century, was
made from Cornish kaolin 31 parts, Cornish china-stone 26 per cent.,
flint 2·5 per cent., and ‘prepared bones’ 40·5 per cent.[209] The last
material is made from the roasted bones of oxen, now largely imported
for this purpose from South America. The glaze on the earlier wares was
essentially a silicate of lead and potash, compounded from white lead,
nitre, and salt. But at present a harder glaze is used for the
Staffordshire porcelain: it contains, in addition to the above
substances, a considerable quantity of china-stone and china-clay,
together with a little borax.

Our English porcelain of the eighteenth century may be divided roughly
into five periods:–

1. The early or primitive period, very often characterised by Chinese,
and especially Japanese, schemes of decoration. Oriental wares are
closely copied, sometimes perhaps with the object of deception. The
paste, containing no bone-ash, is soft and very waxy in appearance. Much
of the ground is left unpainted, and there is no gilding. There is a
great uncertainty as to the place of manufacture of many of these early

2. The fine period–approximately 1755 to 1768–especially associated
with the name of Sprimont, at Chelsea. The influence of the contemporary
production at Sèvres is very marked.

3. The Duesbury period, 1768 to 1786. Simple classical forms are
predominant at Chelsea and Derby. The rich decoration previously in use
at Chelsea is continued at Worcester, but applied to pieces of simpler
outline, the vases often copying Chinese forms.

4. The early commercial period. The business firms at Derby and
Worcester almost monopolise the market. Somewhat later the factories in
the Severn valley form a link with the next period.

5. The Staffordshire commercial period, equally commercial and
essentially eclectic. Everything is copied, and there is a constant
tendency to hark back to older types.

It is possible that some such historical arrangement, combined with a
division according to types of decoration, might be made the basis of an
account of English porcelain; but it will be a safer course to follow
the usual topographical division, treating the different factories more
or less in the order of the date of their foundation.

CHELSEA.–The year 1745 is the earliest date to which any piece of
Chelsea ware can with certainty be assigned. The factory ceased to exist
as an independent seat of manufacture before 1770. In this short
interval there were apparently some years during which very little
china was made. It is thus essentially an early ware, and Horace Walpole
in his catalogue already speaks of ‘old Chelsea.’

We know absolutely nothing about the origin of the works. The Duke of
Buckingham, in the time of Charles II., is said to have been interested
in some glass-works in this neighbourhood, and to have brought over
workmen from Venice. The duke’s glass-houses were, however, more
probably at Lambeth. At any rate, at that time, the ‘cones,’ as the
glass-houses were called, appear to have been regarded as places
suitable equally for the making of glass or the firing of pottery–so at
least I glean from the terms of an advertisement in which some of these
‘cones’ are offered for sale. The origin of the well-known anchor-mark
of Chelsea has been sought in Venice, but, as far as porcelain is
concerned, it was probably in use at Chelsea at an earlier date than in
the latter town.

Our knowledge of the existence of a factory at Chelsea before 1749 rests
on the survival of two little cream-jugs of white ware moulded in the
so-called ‘goat and bee’ pattern. Like some other pieces to which an
early date may be assigned, these little jugs bear as a mark a rough
triangle scratched in the paste (PL. E. 68), but they stand alone in the
fact that beneath the triangle has been added, _before baking_, in a
scrawly hand, ‘Chelsea, 1745.’[210] Thanks to them we are able, upon
material evidence, to put back the origin of English porcelain for five
years at least.[211]

In the year 1747, we are told in the _London Tradesman_, that at a
house at Greenwich, and at another at Chelsea, _the undertakers had been
for some time trying_ to imitate the porcelain of China and Dresden, and
in the same year a number of Staffordshire potters migrated to London to
find work in the Chelsea factory (Shaw’s _Rise and Progress of the
Staffordshire Potteries_). In a London paper of December 1749 there is
an advertisement of the sale of a freehold messuage in ‘Great China Row,
Chelsea.’ This was no mere misprint–China for Cheyne–(the two words
were pronounced alike at that time), for we come across the same
spelling in more than one instance at a later date.[212] There is a real
confusion of the two names, arising probably from the interest taken in
the porcelain factory lately established in the neighbourhood; and this
very confusion is good evidence of the extent to which the china
question was occupying people’s minds at the time.

Two months later, in January 1750, we hear for the first time of Mr.
Charles Gouyn, but he is already, at that date, the _late_ proprietor
and chief manager of the ‘Chelsea House.’ Of this Gouyn, presumably the
founder of the works, we know nothing. He was probably of French or
Belgian origin.[213] Of Gouyn’s successor, Nicholas Sprimont, we know
something more. Like his contemporary Duplessis, at Sèvres, he was a
silversmith, working at one time in Soho. Sprimont entered his name at
Goldsmith Hall in 1742, and his mark is found on a pair of silver dishes
ornamented with shells and corals now at Windsor.

For twenty years (1749-69) the factory at Chelsea was dependent upon
Sprimont’s efforts. He was financier, director, and designer. When he
was ill the kilns were not lighted. When finally, in 1764, he had to go
in search of health to ‘the German Spau,’ the stock and plant were
offered for sale. At an early period–soon after 1753, it would seem,
but possibly somewhat later–he appealed to the Government against the
connivance of the custom-house officials at the smuggling in of Dresden
china. In this ‘_Case of the Undertaker of the Chelsea Manufacture of
Porcelain_,’ Sprimont points out that ‘as the law stands, painted
Earthenware[214] other than that from India is not enterable at the
Custom House, otherwise than for private use.’ ‘The regulation,’ says
Sprimont, ‘is, however, evaded, especially by a certain foreign minister
whose official residence has become a warehouse for this commerce. What
chance had a private person in a match with a crowned head?’

From this ‘Case’ we learn that no porcelain or other ware, apart from
the importations of the East India Company, was allowed to enter the
country, but that an exception was made in the case of plain white ware
suitable for subsequent decoration in England.[215] Private individuals,
however, might import a certain amount of European porcelain for their
own use on payment of a small duty. ‘This concession,’ says Sprimont,
‘was greatly abused.’ Who, however, is the ‘crowned head’ who is so
anxious to push the sale of his own goods in the English market? The
Elector of Saxony, it is usually said; but if we could put the date of
the ‘undertaker’s case’ a few years later, between 1759 and 1761 (there
are, I allow, some difficulties in so doing), this charge would fit in
well with the efforts of Frederick the Great to convert the stock of
porcelain he found at Meissen into the much-needed cash.[216]

The factory at Chelsea was situated beyond the west extremity of the
original Cheyne Row, just before you come to the old church. The works
extended for some distance along the west side of Lawrence Street.
Nothing is left of them now, but during some excavations made near at
hand, in 1843, many fragments of porcelain were found. These pieces
belong, it would seem, to an early period of the manufacture.

We have already pointed out that neither the Chelsea works, nor indeed
any other English porcelain factory, at any time received direct
financial support either from the royal family or from the Government.
Sir Everard Fawkner, however, secretary to the Duke of Cumberland, was a
collector of china, and took some interest in the works. It was through
his influence, perhaps, that the ‘butcher of Culloden’ appears at one
time to have been brought, in some way, into connection with the Chelsea
factory.[217] Again, soon after his accession, the young King George
III. sent to the Duke of Mecklenburg a complete service of Chelsea
porcelain which cost £1200. This is, I think, our first known instance
in England of royal patronage, even in this restricted sense.

In common with the other porcelain made at the time, the decoration, and
even the shapes, of much of the early ware of Chelsea were derived from
Oriental models. Of these Eastern types, the ‘wheatsheaf and partridge’
(more properly quail) was most in favour. The Chelsea imitations of the
old Japanese ware are distinguished by the abundant use of a heavy
iron-red enamel. There are several specimens of this ware at South
Kensington, but I would call attention, above all, to a very curious
_compotier_ in the Jermyn Street collection.[218] This dish has a brown
rim, and round the margin a quaint decoration of foxes amid clusters of
red grapes. This is a very old Chinese _motif_, only we should have
squirrels in place of foxes. But the Chelsea ‘Kakiyemon’ never equalled
that of Chantilly, or perhaps even the copies made at Bow. On the other
hand, the Chelsea plates made in imitation of the brocaded ‘old Japan’
are unsurpassed among European wares (PL. XLV). Equally early, perhaps,
are the plates and dishes with decorations of flowers and birds on a
large scale sprawling over the surface. In these last examples the
colours are poor and heavy, and the general execution very rough. Many
of the plain white pieces also belong to this early period.[219]

In the year 1754 Sprimont introduced the system of periodic sales by
auction;[220] and we can in some measure trace the progress of the
manufacture in the advertisements and in the rare catalogues that have
been preserved. Thus in the advertisement of the first sale of 1754 we
already find mention of groups of figures. The next sale, a few months
later, was made up of ‘the entire Stock of PORCELAIN TOYS …
Snuff-boxes, Smelling-Bottles, Etwees, and Trinkets for Watches (mounted
in Gold and unmounted) in various beautiful Shapes of an elegant Design
and curiously painted in Enamel.’ There was also in this sale a large
parcel of porcelain hafts for table and dessert knives and forks.

This is the first mention that we have of these fascinating little ‘toys
and trinkets.’ They often bear inscriptions in a somewhat lame French,
which we might have looked for rather on the rival wares of
‘Stratford-atte-Bowe’ than at a factory where we have reason to believe
more than one Frenchman was employed. Of these toys a representative
collection was made by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, and there are many
charming specimens in the British Museum. We must remember that about
this time, and perhaps earlier (1740-50), Saint-Cloud and, above all,
Mennecy, were turning out a similar class of objects.

The Chelsea sale of 1756 is the earliest of which a catalogue has been
preserved, and in it we find the first mention of the ‘mazareen’ blue, a
colour after this time largely used as a ground for the more elaborate
vases, both at Chelsea and at other English factories. The rage for
porcelain was then at its height, and we see traces of this in the
advertisements of the time; but in 1757 Sprimont fell ill, and little
was made at Chelsea. In 1759 the collection of Chelsea porcelain made by
the already-mentioned Sir Everard Fawkner, lately deceased, was sold by
auction. The sale occupied several days, and in the advertisement we
come across the earliest reference to the use of green _en camaïeu_–‘a
tea and coffee equipage, exquisitely painted in green landscapes.’

It was about this time, Professor Church thinks, that the artificial
frit-paste was replaced at Chelsea by one containing a large quantity of
bone-ash (as much as fifty per cent. in some cases). The earlier
material of the French type must have been very difficult to work, and
it softened so readily in the kiln that many specimens were spoiled in
the firing. It had, however, a certain mellow charm given by its
translucency and by the close unison of paste and glaze, that was never
equalled in the later material.

Indeed the high-water mark of the Chelsea factory was reached in the
years that succeeded Sprimont’s first illness of 1757. It was then that
the use of gilding became more general.[221] The gold was laid on by
means of an amalgam, the mercury being expelled by the heat of the
muffle. The result, after burnishing, was to give a brilliant surface of
pure gold unlike the solid chiselled lines and bands of dullish surface
seen on Sèvres china. But from an artistic point of view this result is
not very satisfactory–indeed, nothing has helped more to give a certain
garish and vulgar air to much of the English porcelain made at this

In the notice of the spring sale of 1760, Sprimont sings the praises of
‘a few pieces of some new colours that have been found this year at a
very large expense, incredible labour and close application.’ Among
these new colours we must probably reckon the beautiful claret or deep
purplish crimson, the one colour of our English porcelain that has never
been surpassed or even equalled on the Continent. It differs from the
contemporary _rose Pompadour_ not only by the greater intensity of its
hue, but by being a transparent colour. This claret is, of course,
derived from the purple of Cassius, and the peculiar tint is said to be
due to the addition to the gold of a small amount of silver. Among the
other colours introduced at this time was probably a blue made in
imitation of the famous turquoise of Sèvres. This blue is very rare as a
ground colour at Chelsea, and the tint is generally greenish and opaque.
It is found at its best on a large vase in the British Museum with
open-work cover and handles. In a diluted form the turquoise blue is
often found as a wash upon the drapery of statuettes. The _rose
Pompadour_ of Sèvres was also imitated at a later date, but not very

This is the time of the more ambitious vases, with a monochrome ground
generally of deep blue and reserved panels painted with pastoral or
mythological subjects, or with fantastic ‘exotic’ birds and flowers. The
painting, even in the finest examples, never attained the delicacy of
the Sèvres prototype, and it is often lamentably inefficient, but at the
same time this very rudeness of execution sometimes adds to the
decorative effect of the _ensemble_. These vases are above all
distinguished by the strangely contorted shapes that Sprimont so loved
to give to the handles, covers, and feet. All these points are well
illustrated in the vases (made in the years 1762 and 1763) that Dr.
Garnier gave to the Foundling Hospital and to the British Museum. The
painting on these specimens is particularly bad and heavy. The
mythological subjects, in the style of Boucher, on the famous
_garniture_ with claret ground, now belonging to Lord Burton, show a
greater delicacy–in execution at least. This exaggerated rococo
treatment–in the extreme forms even the bilateral symmetry is
abandoned–was doubtless suggested by the forms of the ormolu mountings
(for handles and feet especially) then much in vogue.[222]

To a somewhat earlier date belong the moulded reproductions of animals,
vegetables, and fruit so well represented in the Schreiber collection.
In the case of some of the models of birds, the plumage is admirably
reproduced, and in a sufficiently bold style. Notice especially some
covered dishes in the form of partridges and doves. There was a sale of
these ‘Chelsea Tureens in the shape of hen and chickens, swans, rabbits,
carp, etc.,’ in 1756.

How brilliant and decorative in general effect was some of the ware made
by Sprimont in his later days may be well seen in the collection
presented to South Kensington by Miss Emily Thomson. It consists chiefly
of plates and cups with grounds of deep Mazarin blue, and more
especially of the rich claret or maroon of Chelsea (PL. XLIII.).
Technically, however, many of these pieces are very imperfect–the thick
glaze accumulated in pools and fissured by cracks, the painting
rude–and yet for all this a plate of this ware which has found its way
by some accident into an adjacent case, full of the finest Sèvres of the
best period, shines out from its surroundings like a jewel.

The single figures and groups are mentioned in the earliest
advertisements–some of the plain white statuettes date back probably to
the first days of the works. Here the English potters, in applying the
soft paste covered with a thick, brilliant glaze to such a purpose, were
breaking fresh ground. The crispness and the finish of the Dresden
statuettes they could never attain to with these materials. The English
figures and groups, whether made at Chelsea or elsewhere, are generally
wanting in sharpness and precision of outline, a consequence in great
measure of the thick-flowing glaze. In the kiln they had to be supported
by an elaborate system of struts to prevent the fusible material from
collapsing, and this alone must have hampered the modeller in the
selection of the design. Many of these

[Illustration: _PLATE XLIII._ CHELSEA]

English statuettes are childishly and hastily modelled, and yet here and
there, perhaps almost by an accident, the modeller has succeeded in
giving a naïve charm and vivacity to the little figure that disarms all
criticism. I could point to perhaps a dozen examples in our museums to
illustrate this. Many of these statuettes are disfigured by the tawdry
gilding, and by the ugly rococo or ‘scroll’ bases which are always
present in the Chelsea examples. The colouring is distinguished by the
skilful use of pale and gradated tints: the greenish turquoise, the
_rouge d’or_–both the English and the French tints–and the pea green,
are–thanks, perhaps, to the crystalline glaze into which these colours
melt–boldly combined without any unpleasant effect[223] (PL. XLIV.).

Sprimont, who after all is perhaps the most interesting figure in the
history of English porcelain, was after the year 1761 constantly
interrupted by ill-health, and the outturn of the kilns was for several
years very irregular; finally in 1769 the remaining stock was sold by
auction. The next year, the contents of the factory, the moulds, the
models–in wax, brass, or lead–the mills and the presses were purchased
privately by Duesbury _en bloc_, greatly to the disappointment of
Wedgwood, who had his eye upon certain of the models. Duesbury also took
over the lease of the Chelsea works, and carried them on conjointly with
his main factory at Derby until the year 1784. In that year, on the
expiration of the already prolonged lease, the factory at Chelsea was
finally abandoned and the kilns pulled down.

The sales which had previously taken place at Burnsall’s in Charles
Street, Berkeley Square, were now held at Mr. Christie’s ‘in his great
room, late the Royal Academy, in Pall Mall.’ It was there that ‘Messrs.
Duesbury and Co.’ disposed at intervals of the produce of the combined
works. But the history of Chelsea porcelain as a _genre_ apart comes to
an end with the departure of Sprimont. During the remaining years of
their existence, the Chelsea works formed merely a dependency of those
at Derby.

As to the marks used at Chelsea, of the early incised triangle, which
was formerly ascribed to Bow, we have already spoken. The anchor in
relief on a raised oval cartouche (PL. E. 69) is found on relatively
early ware; it is associated with a waxy, translucent paste, and a
simple decoration without gilding. The mark, _par excellence_, of
Chelsea is the red anchor (PL. E. 70), but on richly decorated pieces,
and especially those with much gilding, the anchor is often inscribed in

BOW.–From the beginning of the eighteenth century to the year 1744
there is no trace of the issue of any English patent relating to the
manufacture of porcelain. In the latter year, however, a specification
was registered according to which Edward Heylyn, of the parish of Bow,
merchant, and Thomas Frye, of the parish of West Ham, painter, professed
to make porcelain, by mixing with ‘an earth the produce of the Cherokee
nation in America, called by the natives Unaker,’ a glass composed of
flint and potash. This unaker, no doubt a kind of kaolin (we are told
that the sand and mica had to be carefully washed away), was much talked
of at this time (especially in Quaker circles), and its use preceded by
some years that of the Cornish china-clay.

Possibly something resembling porcelain was made at Bow for a short time
with these incongruous materials; but in the winter of 1748-49 a second

[Illustration: Plate XLIV.

_Chelsea. Coloured enamels._]

was taken out, this time by Frye alone, ‘for a new method of making a
certain ware which is not inferior in beauty and fineness, and is rather
superior in strength than the earthenware that is brought from the East
Indies, and is commonly known by the name of China, Japan, or porcelain
ware.’ In the description of the materials employed under the vague
denomination of ‘a virgin earth’ produced by the calcination, grinding,
and washing of certain animals, vegetables, and fossils, we probably
have, as Professor Church has pointed out, the first mention of bone-ash
as a material for porcelain. According to the specification, the paste
should contain four-ninths by weight of the ‘virgin earth,’ and taking
this to mean bone-ash, this proportion corresponds most closely with the
amount of phosphate of lime found by Professor Church in some of the
fragments from the site of the works which we shall describe directly.
Frye’s glaze was to be compounded from a mixture of red lead, saltpetre
and sand, with the addition of a small quantity of smalt, to correct the
yellow colour of the paste.[224]

Thomas Frye was an artist of some standing who, towards the close of his
life, ‘scraped’ some mezzotints still valued by collectors. He died in
1762, and in his epitaph it is claimed for him that he was ‘the inventor
and first manufacturer of porcelain in England.’ The works of which Frye
was the manager before the failure of his health in 1759 were situated
close to the high road just beyond the bridge over the river Lea. Close
by, in 1868, when making some excavations for a drain in the grounds of
a match-factory, a number of fragments of porcelain were found, among
them pieces of plain white with prunus ‘sprigs’ in relief, and others
poorly decorated with under-glaze blue. Some of these fragments were
evidently ‘wasters.’ With them were found some broken ‘seggars,’ and,
what is still more interesting, a circular cake of frit, so that the
site of the kilns must have been near at hand.[225]

The model of the Bow factory, we are told, was taken from that at
Canton, in China. It would be interesting to know to what building the
reference is made, for it is doubtful whether porcelain was ever made at
Canton. In any case, the name given to the factory, ‘The New Canton
Works,’ is interesting. Here in the east of London, one was then, as
now, perceptibly nearer to China and the East Indies than at Chelsea.
The river and the docks are at hand, and there is indeed only one
stage–a long one, it is true–between us and Canton. So at Bow we find
the Oriental decoration more prevalent and surviving longer than

The outturn of the kilns, like that of Chelsea, was sold periodically by
auction, but the sales took place in the city for the most part, and the
principal warehouse was in Cornhill. Though so difficult to identify
nowadays, a large quantity of porcelain must have been produced by the
Bow factory during the thirty years of its independent existence. Like
its rival at Chelsea, the works had many ups and downs, and Crowther,
the proprietor, became bankrupt in 1763. Compared with Chelsea, however,
the bulk of the ware produced was no doubt of a common and cheap kind.
Sprimont, in his ‘Case of the Undertaker,’ says somewhat contemptuously,
‘The chief endeavours at Bow have been towards making a more ordinary
ware for common use.’ This is, of course, the dictum of a rival, but
the Bow firm, in their advertisements, only claim to provide ‘china
suitable for gentlemen’s kitchens, for private families and taverns.’

There has been the widest difference of opinion as to the actual
specimens of porcelain that may with certainty be classed as the produce
of the kilns at Bow. The earliest dated pieces are of a very modest
kind–certain little cylindrical ink-pots. There is one in the
collection formerly at Jermyn Street, with the inscription ‘Made at New
Canton, 1751’; another in a private collection is dated a year earlier.
The execution is rough, and the hastily coloured decoration of flowers
is in the Japanese style. Some little time after this, in 1753, we find
proof that the kilns were turning out much more ware than the proprietor
could find painters to decorate.[226] They advertise in a Birmingham
newspaper for ‘painters in the blue and white potting way and enamelers
in china-ware’; also for ‘painters brought up in the Snuff-box way,
Japanning, Fan-painting, etc.’ They are at the same time in search of
persons ‘who can model small figures in clay neatly.’ Such
advertisements seem to come from a commercial house with a large but
perhaps irregular outturn. Sprimont would probably have exercised more
care in the selection of his artists.

There is a famous punch-bowl in the British Museum which is above all
the _pièce justificative_ of the Bow porcelain works. On the inside of
the cover of the box in which it is preserved is a long inscription,
signed at the foot by T. Craft, and with the date 1790.[227] Thomas
Craft, formerly an enamel-painter at Bow, was probably at that time a
very old man. This bowl, he tells us, was made at Bow about 1760, and
painted by him ‘in what we used to call the old Japan taste, a taste at
that time much esteemed by the then Duke of Argyle.’ This is
interesting. Craft refers probably to the so-called ‘partridge and
wheatsheaf’ style, and the duke was doubtless a collector of this ware,
like his contemporaries at Chantilly and the Palais Royal. But the
decoration of this bowl has unfortunately nothing Japanese about it,
except to some degree in the colour of the enamels employed. The heavy
wreaths made up of minute flowers, upon which Mr. Craft tells us that he
expended two dwts. of gold and about a fortnight of his time, take their
inspiration rather from Meissen. (Compare the wreaths, PL. XLV. 2.) The
works, he continues, which employed ninety painters and about two
hundred turners, throwers, etc.,[228] had now, in 1790, ‘like
Shakespeare’s cloud-capt towers, etc.,’ shared the fate of ‘the famous
cities of Troy, Carthage, etc.’ The site was occupied by a manufactory
of turpentine and some small tenements. Mr. Craft, however, tells us
that he never used this punch-bowl _but in particular respect of his
company_, and he hopes that those to whom it may pass may be equally
abstemious. It is at present in the charge of the trustees of the
British Museum.

Many of the more elaborate figures and highly finished vases classed as
‘Bow’ in the Schreiber collection at South Kensington are now regarded
by most specialists as the production, some of the Derby works, and
others of the Chelsea and even the Worcester kilns. In view of the
uncertainty and difference of opinion about the ware that is to be
attributed to Bow, it is important to note the physical qualities of
undoubted specimens. Professor Church lays stress upon the


general thickness of the ware, the remarkable translucency of the
thinner parts, and upon the fact that the transmitted light is of a
somewhat yellowish tint, not greenish, as in the Worcester porcelain.
The glaze, though nearly white, is of a pale straw colour, and it tends
to accumulate round the reliefs; it contains much lead, and is liable to
become iridescent and discoloured (_English Porcelain_, p. 31). I would
add that a majority of the undoubted examples–I rely especially upon
those collected by the late Sir A. W. Franks, now in the British
Museum–are distinguished by a certain dirty and speckled appearance of
the surface of the glaze. I think that the Bow china has been less
influenced than other of our wares by French and German examples. Apart
from the Oriental decoration of some of the earlier pieces, it is on the
whole a very _English_ ware.

The process of transfer-printing, which had been first applied to china
by Sadler of Liverpool about the year 1750, and which had been in use at
perhaps as early a date on the enamels of Battersea, where Hancock was
working at this time, was employed a few years later at Bow.[229] A
preliminary outline was sometimes printed under the glaze, and this
subsequently enlivened by enamel colours laid on by hand, as we see on
some barbarously painted dishes with Chinese subjects in the British
Museum. This transfer-printing is an essentially English process: it has
since been carried round the world in the wake of our Staffordshire
pottery, and the process has even been applied to porcelain in Japan. To
the general adoption of this mechanical process, more than to any other
cause, we may attribute the dying out of the school of artist-craftsmen
who painted on china, and the extinction of all feeling for the
decorative value of the designs applied to the ware.

I would call attention to some small figures in the collection formerly
in the Geological Museum. These little statuettes are in a white glazed
ware of a slightly greenish tint, and they are attributed to Bow. The
‘Draped Warrior’ and the ‘Seated Nuns’ appear to be taken from models of
a considerably earlier period, and their artistic merit is undeniable.

John Bacon, the fashionable sculptor of George III.’s time, is said to
have found employment, when young, both as a modeller and painter of
porcelain. He was certainly apprenticed in 1755 to a Mr. Crispe of Bow
Churchyard, the proprietor of some pottery-works at Lambeth, and he may
very likely have worked for Crowther, at Bow, after the expiration of
his apprenticeship.

A dagger or sword with one or more dots near the hilt, associated with
an anchor, is the mark especially characteristic of the ware made at Bow
(PL. E. 71), but much porcelain attributed to this factory carries no
mark. A monogram formed of the letters T and F found on some early ware
is perhaps to be referred to Thomas Frye, but the Worcester factory also
used this mark (PL. E. 72).

LONGTON HALL.–It has lately been recognised that porcelain was made in
the Staffordshire potteries, probably as early as the middle of the
century.[230] This was at Longton Hall, in the borough of
Stoke-upon-Trent. From an advertisement in a Birmingham paper (July 27,
1752) we learn that W. Littler and Co. were ready to supply ‘a great
variety of ornamental porcelain in the most fashionable and genteel
taste.’ It was Mr. Nightingale, I think, who first traced certain pieces
of china, marked with two L’s crossed (PL. E. 81), to Littler’s factory.
This porcelain had previously been attributed to Bow. The Longton Hall
ware has no claim to any artistic merit. A crude blue is the prevailing
ground colour, and the contorted shapes copy rudely the rococo of
Sprimont’s Chelsea ware. The mouldings on the dishes and plates often
take the form of leaves. Some of this porcelain is exceptionally thin
compared with other English wares of this comparatively early period.
The flower-painting on the reserved panels of the plates should,
however, be noticed. The carefully executed bunches of roses, somewhat
realistically treated, are perhaps the earliest specimens of a style
very prevalent at a later time in England, one which found its most
famous exponent in Billingsley’s work at Nantgarw and elsewhere. William
Duesbury, a native of the district, was working at Longton Hall early in
the fifties as a painter in enamel. Nothing is known of this factory
after the year 1758.[231] There is some reason to believe that it fell
into the hands of Duesbury, but this is a disputed question. Professor
Church has analysed several specimens of the Longton Hall china. It
contains no bone-ash, and is in composition very close to the early
Chelsea ware.