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 wonderful hand-painted ruffled bowl, circa 1900, I feel is a product of the Company decorating department or a professional studio environment outside of the Belleek factory. The detail and professionalism is fantastic. The piece is initialed "M.S." on the front just to the right of the scene.
The courtship scene is of a Victorian couple pictured in a garden setting. The beautiful lady, attired in a soft pink and green gown and hat, both with dark pink floral adornments, is standing at the end of a gray/white stone wall or fence. The gentleman attired in a powder blue jacket and white ruffled shirt is standing back of the wall and cradling the ladies right hand with both of his. Her left hand is upright touching her chin and the demure look on her face suggests a tender moment. Hints of green foliage and blue sky completes the background against the white blank. Delicate gold scrolls and cross-hatching is along and beneath the scene with hints of blue highlights. The scalloped and ruffled ribbon edge is decorated with gold. The base is stamped with the coiled snake and "Belleek - Willets" in brown, a color associated with white-ware sold by the company. The bowl measures 7" across and 1 3/4" in height. There are no cracks, chips, scratches or repairs. Great piece for the Belleek or portrait/scenic collector.