The Story of the British Museum, £8.99
Diameter: 21.900 inches
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
M&ME 1887,3-7, (English Pottery E 154)
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
English Delftware dish, with a scene of a merchant ship
Southwark, London, dated AD 1663
Delftware is tin-glazed earthenware. A glaze containing tin oxide produces an opaque white brilliant surface. It hides the coloured clay and produces a surface similar to porcelain, and can be decorated. Tin-glazed earthenware in Europe is commonly known as maiolica, faience or delftware, according to where it was made.
This exceptionally large dish, or 'charger', was probably made at the Pickleherring Pottery, Southwark, founded by the Dutch immigrant potter Christian Wilhelm in 1618. Wilhelm developed a range of decoration based on Chinese export porcelain. By the 1630s, however, the potters had developed an attractive, naturalistic style in polychrome colours, containing elements of Italian maiolica decoration. This dish combines both styles: the border is reminiscent of Chinese decorative motifs, while the flowers, leaves and sailing ship are typically European.
Made for display purposes, the dish commemorates the marriage of John Garway, ('I.GM'), freeman of the London Haberdashers' Company, and Mary Holgrove, on 21 May 1663. Garway was a prominent merchant in the woollen trade between the Low Countries (modern-day Holland, Belgium and northern France) and London, and the finely-painted ship may refer to his links with continental Europe. Cargoes of woollen cloths and associated textiles were usually unloaded at the wharves of Old Wool Quay, which was just across the River Thames from Pickleherring Quay.
F. Britton, London Delftware (London, Johnathan Horne, 1987)
H. Tait, 'Southwark (Alias Lambeth) Delftware and the potter, Christian Wilhelm: II', The Connoisseur (February 1961)
H. Tait, 'Southwark (Alias Lambeth) Delftware and the potter, Christian Wilhelm: I', The Connoisseur-1 (August 1960)