Of flowers, top hats and cravats

When seeing beautiful antique porcelain with bright flower decorations, people often have two assumptions: decorations must have been printed, and the flowers were probably made up by some imaginative artist. Right?

Wrong on both counts!

Up to the 1880s, when transfer printing techniques took a leap and potters such as Wileman became experts at making beautiful prints, all flowers were entirely hand painted. And they weren't made up by anyone; they were almost always naturalistic.

To be a flower painter was a highly respected job, and I read in the personal memoirs of an English potter that unlike most other pottery workers, the painters would come to work in top hat and cravat and their workshops were filled with polite and erudite conversation. And they worked hard!

It is well known that some of the most famous painters would dedicate their lives to understanding the botany of flowers and the anatomy of birds. After work, they would study large books on flora and fauna by candle light, and their Sundays were spent on on long walks in the beautiful English hills in order to see it all with their own eyes and get inspiration.

In this picture I am showing off some items that are currently not for sale: a large dessert service by Henry Daniel, a set of dinner plates, and a bright green tea service. The Daniel factory was unequalled in their flower artistry. These items are the pride of my stock room and for now I'm holding on to them and learning more every time I study a flower from close up.

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