This plate is regarded as one of the finest works of art by Thomas Baxter, who is considered one of the best artists ever to work on porcelain. It was painted during the two years he worked at Flight, Barr and Barr between 1814-1816. Baxter was a former student at the Royal Academy in London under Henri Fuseli where he practised painting Egyptian and Grecian figures which he later translated onto porcelain.
We know that Baxter loved the theatre and went often as he frequently sketched and painted actresses and theatrical scenes from productions at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. On this plate Baxter captures the character of the Tragic Muse after a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The muse is portrayed by the most famous actress of her day Sarah Siddons who started her acting career in Worcester before making her debut at Drury Lane. We see her seated on a throne with allegorical figures of Pity and Terror standing behind her and a theatrical painting of a dark stormy sky in the background. Baxter is known to have painted two of these plates, the second is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The raised goldwork border is in keeping with the importance of the object – it would have been added by a gilder and required much time and skill to build up the relief motif and apply costly gilding to it.
Artist: Thomas Baxter
Material: Soft paste porcelain
Factory: Flight, Barr and Barr
Showstopper sponsor: Charles Dawson
Charles Dawson is the author of the recently published book entitled ‘Worcester Flight & Barr Porcelain’, which is available at www.flightandbarr.com and in the Museum shop.