This is an important and sublimely made little vase created by George Owen at Royal Worcester in the year 1917. The vase is in the Persian style and is delicately reticulated (pierced) with very fine raised gilt patterns.
The original Worcester factory was founded in the mid 18th Century and belongs to the group of famous pioneering potteries in Britain. It went through various changes and take overs, and in the mid 19th Century it merged with Chamberlains and Grainger, both earlier split-offs, taking the new name "Royal Worcester". The pottery distinguished itself with its extremely high quality of artwork, hiring the best artists and always coming up with very vivid designs full of flowers, birds and fruits. It was in operation until the early 21st Century but eventually succumbed to the changing times.
George Owen was a modeller with a truly unique skill of reticulating (piercing) extremely fine decorative pieces. While there were other modellers with this skill, no one was able to work to Owen's standard and his pieces stand out in perfection, detail and beauty. Owen worked behind locked doors and never allowed anyone to see how he created his "ivory reticulated" pieces as they were called - he would even put away his tools when disturbed, lest anyone would discover his method. One thing that made Owen unrivalled at his skill was the fact that he was ambidextrous, i.e. he could work right-handed as well as left-handed with the same precision, allowing him to change hands depending on which side of a vase he was working on and applying equal pressure either way. Owen had his vases cast especially thinly by his son, however even his son was not allowed to watch him work and the piercing took place behind a locked door.
Owen's pieces were incredibly expensive to make; the slightest lapse of concentration could lead to the knife slipping or the item drying out too much, which would ruin it. Then during firing in the kiln anything could go wrong and one could never be sure whether these very fragile pieces would come out broken or sagged. Each piece would take many months to create, often with intermittant periods of having to slowly be brought to the correct degree of wetness in a "wet box". Yet Owen's skills saw Royal Worcester through a very difficult period as they attracted much-needed attention at trade shows and created a new fashion among the wealthy elites.
This small vase is ivory-white with very fine raised gilt decorations. The vase is in the Persian style with two handles on top of its body. It has incredibly fine honeycomb reticulation.
The vase is marked with the beige Royal Worcester mark with a date mark for 1919, shape number 1200, and the hand-engraved signature "G. Owen". Only George Owen was allowed to apply this signature so we can be sure this item is genuine. The date of 1919 is two years after Owen died; as Owen left behind a considerable amount of stock it is likely that it took the factory a few years to get all items glazed, gilded and ready for sale, at which point the mark would have been applied.
CONDITION REPORT This vase is in absolutely perfect condition.
Antique British porcelain is never perfect. Kilns were fired on coal in the 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. British makers were also known for their experimentation, and sometimes this resulted in technically imperfect results. Due to the shrinkage in the kiln, items can have small firing lines or develop crazing over time, which should not be seen as damage but as an imperfection of the maker's recipes, probably unknown at the time of making. Items have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear, and gilt can have signs of slight disintegration even if never handled. I will reflect any damage, repairs, obvious stress marks, crazing or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks, stains and gilt disintegration can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.
There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can easily see with the eye; a glazing line is a break in the glazing only; hairline is extremely tight and/or superficial and not picked up by the finger; and a crack is obvious both to the eye and the finger. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!
DIMENSIONS 8cm (3.2") wide incl. handles, 15.5cm (6.2") high.
SHIPPING I ship worldwide from the UK. Due to its value this shipment will be insured and therefore the shipping charge will be more than usual. Please note that due to the pandemic shipping costs have generally gone up steeply, and although I use only the most reliable couriers, there can sometimes be some delays.
Royal Worcester small Persian vase, reticulated George Owen, 1917
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