Here is a true gem. In the center of this plate is a circular reserve with a cherub, most likely painted by Fidelle Duvivier, surrounded by a cobalt blue and gilt ground of radiating and swirling leaves. (Perhaps it would be better to refer to the cherub as Cupid, since he holds his bow to shoot his arrow of ardent love to pierce the heart.) Rarely do pieces of British porcelain create such an eye-catching impact. One can only imagine the awe that the complete dessert service, displayed in a cabinet, would have engendered. Twitchett illustrates a cup and saucer in the same pattern in plate 166 in Derby Porcelain. This is a dessert dish, seven inches across, and in wonderful condition except for very minor imperfections from use. The gilding is near-perfect. Recent research by Charlotte Jacob-Hanson (see her book “In the Footsteps of Fidelle Duvivier”) has clarified the wandering career of Duvivier, one of the greatest (and well-traveled) decorators of porcelain in the 18th century, who worked for a number of factories. When he was in England, Duvivier worked for Derby, among others, and is well-known for painting cherubs on clouds—as here—but it has become standard practice to ascribe all of Derby’s cherub decoration to Richard Askew. However, research by Andrew Ledger has confirmed that Askew received wages only for about two weeks in 1771. He then left the Derby factory and returned much later for a longer stint in mid-1794, when the Chelsea-Derby mark of a D and anchor was no longer being used. In 1771, when the Chelsea-Derby mark was in use, Duvivier was employed full-time at Derby. So you have your choice: either Duvivier, who was working there full-time, or Askew, who worked there for only two weeks. Eyes painted with a straight line and an oval beneath it are probably a telltale sign of Duvivier, and the eyes here are painted that way. I also have a matching pair to this plate, if the buyer is interested.
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