Although most earthenware patterns tend to be slightly boring in my view, this pattern called “Schizanthus,” which is printed on the bottom of this comport, is nothing less than spectacular. First, the compote itself resembles an open flower, complete with the petals appearing as scallops around the large recessed and rounded center. The transfer pattern consists of dozens of individual flowers cascading downward from around the outer rim in what appears to be a vine that is continuously looping, connecting all the flowers to each other.
The individual flowers were enameled by hand in yellow and green, with petals of red and blue. To add to the decorative appeal there are embossed and raised flowers and leaves on each side, along with two looped handles resembling twining leaves and painted in a bright green enamel. Inside the compote is the same pattern, this time swirling around the center.
But our enjoyment of this piece of pottery does not stop there. The potter reintroduced the pattern on the outside of the compote around the bottom, replicating the delicious swirling leaves, vines and flowers picked out in yellow, green, red and blue. Even the base has been treated to this deluge of vines and flowers as they emanate from around the edge of the base upwards into the stem, which serves as a foot to the piece.
This pottery company went even further to delight us by shaping the base in scallops as well and adding a small decorated thumb rest around the footed compote. The end result of the open-flower shape, the long stem rising from a decorated base, the abundance of hand-painted flowers surrounding the border as well as inside the compote, and the beautifully sculpted handles and embellished flower design is a piece of earthenware pottery that is truly a piece of art.
The name of the pattern, “Schizanthus,” which appears on the bottom of the base as a printed mark, is for the clusters of this flower that are all over the compote. Schizanthus is known as the butterfly flower. It is also called the “poor man’s orchid,” mainly because it is much easier to grow in the cooler climate of England.
Beneath the name of the pattern are the initials for the pottery maker, E.J., for Elija Jones of Cobridge, Staffordshire. Mr. Jones called his establishment Villa Pottery, where he produced earthenware between 1831 and 1839.
This piece came from the estate of a gentleman in the middle of England. It was part of his lifelong collection. He lived in a listed historic mid-17th century manor home and was locally known as quite a character, as well as for the quality and rarity of his acquisitions.
The condition of this compote is excellent, especially considering the date of production of this piece some 185 years ago and its use. As with most earthenware pieces of this age, there is some slight crazing under the glaze. However, one has to look very closely to see it.
Its widest point, from handle edge to handle edge, is 14-1/4 inches. The base is 5-1/4 inches in diameter, and the piece is about 7 inches high from the bottom to the top of the handles.
This is a quality piece and its decorative appeal is such that it is difficult to avert one’s gaze from it. I can’t imagine any table that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of such a handsomely sculptured piece that is so inherently beautiful.
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