Nelson's lion



You may have heard of the famous "Nelson" pattern: a bold Imari design from the very early 19th Century, first designed by Chamberlains in Worcester.


When I say "designed" I need to qualify this: it was of course imitated from an original Japanese Imari design from the early years of the 18th Century. It became this outrageously colourful design no. 240 that Chamberlains called "Fine Old Japan". It became very popular as soon as it came out in early 1802.


When Admiral Nelson visited the Chamberlains factory in later that summer he wanted to order the most popular design and add his own crests; the obvious choice was this Fine Old Japan pattern, and so the "Nelson" pattern was born - and of course now even more people wanted to have tableware in this pattern.


Now there are different views on whether Lord Nelson was a hero, or a leading figure in an oppressive colonial nightmare... but whatever your view, at least he did leave us with a very beautiful porcelain pattern!


Soon the Fine Old Japan pattern was generally called the Nelson pattern, and it wasn't only Chamberlains who made it; Coalport and Spode quickly copied it and you can find items by them in the same pattern.


The pattern itself has so many interesting things: the central huge flower arrangement, which is a very traditional Japanese Imari feature. The in the rims there are sections: small sections with red "kamons" or stylised flowers on a gilt ground, and larger sections with more flowers and animals. Most spectacularly there is an adorable pink lion, looking quite naked and a little confused! In another section are two tall teal-green birds that look like ibises. There is one section that has a butterfly darting around.


And have you noticed the psychedelic floor that the flower arrangement is stood on? Did the painters have some mushrooms?


The lonely quail, here on a Spode saucer

Now in the teaware sometimes there wasn't space for the tall ibises, so they have been turned into a pair of quails hiding under the foliage. And in some items there is only one quail... the story goes that the birds stand for Lord Nelson and deeply beloved partner, Emma Hamilton; but by the time his service was finished he had been killed at Trafalgar so then they changed it to only one quail, depicting the lonely and mourning Emma. Whether this is true is anyone's guess of course.


Where to find things

All my Imari porcelain can be found here, and you can find all my available stock here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day.


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Happy weekend, and be bold! 🦁🦆🦆






 

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