By 1755 Worcester was making the best English blue and white porcelain teawares that money could buy in fashionable shapes and designs. This meant decoration inspired by China and Japan and shapes after the desirable Rococo silver taste with delicate surface moulding – this object has a finely pleat-moulded body with panels framed with embossed floral and shell shapes. It is painted in underglaze blue with a scene of an angler under a willow tree in a Chinese style.
Worcester’s main advantage over its rivals was that the soapstone it added to its porcelain recipe gave the body increased thermal shock resistance so it did not crack when boiling water was poured into it – many other British porcelains did crack!
Chinese designs painted or printed in blue on a white ground were extremely popular at the Worcester factory from its establishment right up to the 1780s and were done on almost every kind of object manufactured there. Some were based on imported originals (which were still coming into Britain in quantity), but many were pure inventions in a Europeanising vein.
The bright blue of the famous blue and white comes from ground-up cobalt oxide which has the unusual quality of maturing into the beautiful blue colour at the high temperatures used for the glaze firing – up to 1200 degrees centigrade. Most other bright colours burn out at these temperatures and need a lower temperature enamel firing – these are on-glaze colours painted on top of the glaze. The cobalt oxide pigment in the form of a black powder was mixed with water and painted onto the ‘biscuit’ or once-fired body. It was then fired again at a relatively low temperature in a process known as ‘hardening on’. Then it could be dipped in glaze and fired once more to give the shiny glassy coating with the blue decoration trapped under the glaze where it was protected from chipping or wearing away.
Material: Soft paste porcelain
Factory: Dr Wall
Showstopper sponsor: Harrison Clark Rickerbys
People are our passion and we are dedicated to supporting the communities in which we operate. Royal Worcester is synonymous with our region and its history and has a close connection to HCR. We are delighted to support the Museum with its Showstopper Trail which is insightful and exquisite – a perfectly fitting showcase for such ornamental and historic items.