ROYAL WORCESTER antique 9" plate with pink and gilt ribbon-twist borders, Australian wild flower centre, pattern #8046. This pierced porcelain dessert plate was made c1869 for exclusive London retailer Phillips of New Bond St. The exquisitely painted centre of pink heather and purple, orange and blue wild flowers with crossed grasses and ferns can be attributed to William Taylor, a well-known floral painter at the Worcester Royal Porcelain Company from 1845 through 1871. The pattern books are full of his pieces and he specialized in these unusual wild flowers and grasses, as in "Pattern #8893 Australian Centre by Taylor". The painting looks as fresh as the day it was made with exquisite details including white highlights on the tiny seeds and stamens. The pure white ground of the porcelain is the perfect backdrop for this well-composed still-life. Similar Australian native flower plates designed in 20C after Marian Ellis Rowan routinely sell for $500 or more.
The principal Worcester artists of the 1860s and 70s read like a Who's Who of mid-Victorian china painters. Floral artists included David Bates (richly coloured bouquets); James Sherriff Sr & Jr (flowers, butterflies, grasses); and William Taylor (floral subjects, especially Australian heathers). To quote RW Binns, Worcester Artistic Director , "this remarkable period of painting formed an epoch in the history of the Manufactory . . . scope was found for the skill of the Worcester painters in the production of rich services for dessert and tea. At that time the late dinner had not entirely superseded the "dish of tea," and there was still a considerable sale for richly-decorated cups and saucers. Picture-painting on these small pieces was out of the question, but the same high order of technical finish was bestowed upon the birds, the butterflies, and the flowers, which found a place upon the dainty furniture of the tea-table."
This plate is equally collectable for its backstamps. It has rare printed mark #3 (Sandon) for the Worcester Royal Porcelain Works, 1862-75. Also rare impressed mark #4 (Sandon) and pattern number and gilder's mark 'B' in gold. Retailer's mark for Phillips of London, 359 Oxford St, 155 New Bond St, in puce with the same crown over both the Phillips and Worcester marks. China dealers W.P.&G. Phillips had a long history with Worcester porcelain, having bought out Chamberlain-Worcester's New Bond Street retail outlet in December 1845. It was a prestigious Victorian store patronized by royalty on the golden mile of Bond Street and was subsequently called Phillips & Pearce. In 2010 Bond Street was Europe's most expensive retail location and you can find Hermes at #155 today.
This plate measures 9"D and has one issue - a 3" stress hairline curving beneath the centre that does not penetrate to the back (photo #6). Otherwise it is in excellent condition with clear enamelling, unworn gilding, a strong reticulated rim and none of the crazing that affected this generation of Worcester porcelain. The wild flower portrait is particularly attractive and the plate displays beautifully.
Henry Sandon 'ROYAL WORCESTER PORCELAIN from 1862 to the Present Day', 1973.
RW Binns 'Worcester China - A Record of the Work of Forty-five Years, 1852-1897', 1897 / 2005 (replica).
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