- Museum number
Plate, earthenware (' pearl ware', decorated with the 'brown water lily' pattern, transfer-printed in black and painted in brown and orange and gilt with botanical subjects; rim gilt. Marked.
- Production date
- 18061811 (circa, design)
Diameter: 9.80 inches
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1984
Amongst the most remarkable of all services made during this period is the well-known pearlware 'Water Lily' service ordered in 1807 and delivered in 1808 to Dr Robert Darwin, son of Dr Erasmus Darwin and father of the evolutionist Charles Darwin. This plate is from the service and was given to A. W. Franks by Dr Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), Director of Kew Gardens between 1865 and 1885 and friend of Charles Darwin. The 'Water Lily' pattern almost certainly represents the earliest use of brown underglaze printing in Staffordshire that can be accurately dated. The decision to introduce the manufacture of underglaze printed ware at Etruria (overglaze printing having been used since the 1770s) was taken on 31 March 1805. The 'Water Lily' pattern was the first to be used at Etruria that reproduced identifiable botanical prints. The engravings of the water lilies, all members of the 'Nymphaeaceae' family, indigenous to watery places, have been identified as: 'nymphaea stellata', or starry water lily, on the left; 'nymphaea lotus', or Lotus of Egypt, on the right; and 'nelumbium speciosum', or sacred Lotus of Buddha, the fully opened flower in the centre, with large, veined indented leaves. The lilies were all copied either from the 'Botanist's Repository' or from the 'Botanical Magazine', periodicals published, between October 1803 and February 1806.
See Una des Fontaines, 'The Darwin Service and the first printed patterns at Eturia', Proc Wedg Soc, Vol. II, no. 6, 1966, pp. 69-90
- On display (G47/dc8)
- Exhibition history
Possibly exhibited at Liverpool Art Club, 1879, with other items from the service in Hooker's possession; see U. des Fontaines, 1966
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number