Leeds Creamware Sugar Bowl: Bird, Nest & Egg Decoration C.1770-80. The outstanding decoration on this antique 18th-century sugar bowl is extremely lively and very rare, perhaps unique. First, the subject is birds hovering over a nest full of eggs—a highly unusual choice in itself. There are pieces of creamware hand-painted with birds sitting sedately in spongeware trees (at a later period), but I don’t know of any creamware painting that includes a nest of eggs. Second, some of the birds are obviously robins, rather than exotic and imaginary birds. Third, there are five colors—iron-red, green, ochre, brown and black— expanding on the normal two or three colors (with red and green dominating). Four, the composition has action—with one bird in the air, swooping over the nest. The scene shows, on one side, a bird protecting a large nest of eggs and robins perched on flowering branches and, on the other, the same robin and branch. The cover has a floral finial, and the bowl has entwined strap handles with flowerhead and leaf terminals. The lid is four and a quarter inches in diameter. Condition is amazing, with no stains, no cracks, no chips to the painting and only a couple of tiny, tiny chips to the footrim. It displays as bright, bold and perfect. The last photo gives the best indication of the actual color. The body of the pottery picked up the green color of the background, so it has a strange color tone in the photos. The sugar bowl is actually a light cream color. Note: The matching teapot and milk jug from this perhaps unique tea service were sold by Northeast Auctions on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-29, 2011, as lots 29 and 30. I can't load the web address here, but you can check the web archives for the former Northeast Auctions (not the current site, with different ownership, but the former site). The teapot sold for $2,000, the milk jug for $1,400. If you know the buyers of those lots, you might let them know where the sugar bowl is.
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Leeds Creamware Sugar Bowl: Bird, Nest & Egg Decoration C.1770-80