I have always enjoyed pate-sur-pate, and appreciated the workmanship necessary to create it. At the end of the listing, we have put a description of pate-sur-pate history and technique. This late 19th century English Pate-Sur-Pate porcelain plaque is a fine example.
Country of Origin: England.
Size: 12" by 6". Framed 18 1/4" by 12 1/4".
Signed: Sherwin & Cotton (logo)
Also two circles with "M" and "628"
Condition: Crazing. Otherwise Very Good Antique Condition.
Circa: Late 19th Century. (Per expert at Kodner Gallery).
Pate sur Pate: The art of Pate sur Pate was first developed at the Sevres factory in the late 1840s and came across to England in 1870 when Marc Louis Solon left Sevres to join the Minton factory in Stoke on Trent. Sevres had never made any secret of the method used and when Solon’s work became known the technique was widely copied by all the major British and European factories.
The green, or unfired, porcelain body to be decorated would be allowed to thoroughly dry out before being coated with a metallic oxide ground colouring. This could be in almost any shade but usually would be a dark green, blue or black. The depth of colour in this ground was crucial to the success of the finished Pate sur Pate ‘cameo’. When this ground layer was also totally dry the first thin wash of porcelain slip would be brushed on. A truly skilled artist would not need sketched outlines or plans, it would be painted on straight from his mind. Again, when totally dry, another layer of slip would be applied to build the picture up. A picture may take thirty or more layers of slip to build up the required depth and the time involved in this was one of the major reasons why it was so expensive.
This drying period was critical. If any layer retained moisture the eventual work could be dulled and spoiled and would often lead to flaking or ‘de-laminating’ in the firing. This was always a very frequent occurrence and another reason why the finished work was so expensive. The failure rate was much higher than for any other form of decoration.
The Pate sur Pate artist needed to be an expert and very delicate carver as well. Once the picture was built up to the required maximum thickness sharp knives would be used to insert the fine detail and sharp edging. Wet brushes were used to soften edges where appropriate and scrapers reduced the layers where required until patterns of light and shade were built up in the successive layers. The darkest areas had to be taken right back to the enamelled body. No other method could compare with the intricacy or delicacy of this technique, but it relied heavily on experience and good artistic judgment.
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