Thumb and Finger

I have been writing a few times lately about the interesting East-West mix of cultures in porcelain (see the links below). Right now we are more than ever aware how connected we are. We are praying for Italy going through a dark night, cheering for China slowly coming out of isolation, while one of my Chinese customers wrote to me today warning me to wear my face mask 🙏😷🤗 Today I have another wonderful example of the mix of East and West: a coffee cup made by Chamberlains in Worcester in about 1805, and decorated in the "Thumb and Finger" pattern. The porcelain of this cup is typical for the time: it is not bone china but an older form of porcelain that looks greyish and sounds different

Beauty in extraordinary times

Now more than ever do we need beauty in our lives! These are extraordinary times and what makes it more unprecedented is that the whole world is united in this crisis, making it feel both more severe and more bearable; we are in this together. What gets me out of bed each morning is the little things that are beautiful: the spring revealing itself in my garden, kindness shown by strangers, the humour and reassurance of my husband, and all my many instagram followers and customers who send messages of cheer and kindness. I've been listening to lots of YouTube videos of the balcony singers in Italy 🎼😁 I have had this set of 23 Coalport plates for a while and now I felt we can really do with

Samuel's beasties

In my previous career I had the pleasure to work for a school that was located at St Donat's, one of Britains' best medieval castles in Wales. They had an original Tudor-era "Beastie Garden"; a rose garden with a circle of heraldic beasts on high plinths. I was told that if you would stand in a place where any of the beasts would not be able to see each other, you would disappear and never be seen again. So you can imagine I am a little bit fascinated by this wonderful 1840s "griffin" vase by Samuel Alcock! Samuel Alcock was one of the finest Rococo Revival porcelain makers, and the shapes of his vases in particular are incredibly original and imaginative. This is a beautiful vase with an ac

Our little winged friends

Putti, also called cherubs or cupids or little angels, are a very popular Western design feature and you can often see putti in the porcelain items I show. This week I have this wonderful Chelsea-Derby plate from about 1775 decorated by Richard Askew, a famous painter of putti on porcelain. But where did putti come from? The word "putti" is plural for the Italian "putto", which means a toddler-type winged angel, or a sweet little boy. It is actually a very old word, going back centuries to Persian and Sanskrit. In many current languages the word "son" is still similar: "beta" in Hindi, "putara" in Punjabi and "pesar" in modern Persian. Putti can come with our without wings. In ancient times

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