In 1879, three brother, Joseph, David and Esmond R Willets, bought out the Excelsior Pottery built by William Young and Sons in Trenton, New Jersey. The company started with four kilns and by 1882 it had expanded to fourteen kilns and about 300 workers. Under the guidance of William Bromely Sr., Willets started the production of Belleek wares around later 1884 and continued for twenty-four years until 1909. The company had its' own decorating department as well as selling white-ware products.
This lovely hand-painted pitcher may be the product of the Company decorating studio, but was probably executed by another professional studio or home studio as it carries the Belleek stamp in brown which is associated with blank pieces sold by the firm.
The pitcher is decorated with branches of ripe grapes in shaded purple colors, large leaves of muted light to dark green, brown and splashes of yellow. Connecting branches and tendrils of green and brown complete the motif all set against a background of soft medium mauve to light lavender. The rim has a gold trim. The Willets blank has an embossed band of leaves around the base as well as a decorative embossed handle. The pitcher measures6 1/2" in height and 3 3/4" across the base. Stamped in brown with the Company logo and "Willets Belleek". Not artist signed. There are no cracks, chips or repairs. Beautiful piece.
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