- Museum number
Vase; one of pair; soft-paste porcelain ('ivory Porcelain'), of flat, octagonal shape, decorated on both sides in low relief with scenes depicting the making of silk in rich colours of green, brown, purple, pink, turquoise grey and dull red, with details picked out in gold; on one side, the feeding of silkworms, and on the other, the spinning of silk.
- Production date
Height: 26.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Pair with 1979,1005.1
Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no. 314.
Following the exhibition of Japanese art objects in London in 1862 and in Paris in 1867, R. W. Binns, artistic director of the Royal Worcester factory, built up his own collection of Far Eastern ceramics to inspire the factory workers. Japanese-style wares were first exhibited by Worcester in London in 1872 (Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the International Exhibition of 1872, 59). In the same year a Japanese mission visiting Great Britain came to the factory and made detailed notes of the materials and manufacturing processes, to the immense satisfaction of R. W. Binns (R.W. Binns, 'Worcester China. A Record of the Work of Forty-five Years, 1852-1897', London 1897, 49-50).
The body known as 'Ivory Porcelain' was invented in 1856 and first shown at the 1862 Exhibition (R.W. Binns, 'A Catalogue of a Collection of Worcester Porcelain in the Museum of the Royal Porcelain Works', Worcester 1882). In his 1882 catalogue Binns notes the introduction in 1872 of bronzed and coloured golds for use on 'Ivory Porcelain'. This combination was widely praised at Vienna's Universal Exhibition of 1873; the Illustrated London News reported that 'the most striking, because the most novel, are those made of ivory porcelain enriched with gold, bronze and colours in imitation of the Japanese style (28 June 1873, quoted in A Guide to the Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester, 1878, 77).
One of the silkworm vases, depicting the harvesting of mulberry leaves, is illustrated in 'The Art Journal'.report of the 1873 Vienna Exhibition (Art Journal, London 1873, 181); the report describes 'many vases of various shapes designed by Hadley: an octagon pair decorated with the story of the silkworm in bronze and gold . . .' (p. 277). A version of this model is also illustrated in Binns's 1882 catalogue of the Worcester Porcelain Works, 174. The decorator is not recorded, but the chief decorators at this period were E. Béjot and James Callowhill. James Hadley worked at Worcester from 1852 until 1875. For full discussion of the silkworm vases and the Japanese source of inspiration for the silk-making scenes, see A. Dawson, 'Worcester porcelain and the Aesthetic style', Antique Dealer & Collector's Guide, August 1982.
For a pair of pilgrim-flask vases also modelled by Hadley, with relief Japanese-style scenes showing the making of pottery, see E. Aslin, 'The Aesthetic Movement', London 1969, pl. 103 (acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum from the 1872 London Exhibition). A similar pair dated 1875 was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 21 April 1989, lot 140; other versions of the pilgrim-flask vases are illustrated in Binns 1882, 174; G. Godden, 'Victorian Porcelain', London 1961a, pl. 59 and H.Sandon, 'Royal Worcester Porcelain from 1862 to the Present Day', London 1973, pl. 65. See also Phillips, London, 30 November 1988, lot 420, for a pair of pilgrim vases with different Japanese-style scenes and a design registration code for 1878. Similar wares were still being exhibited in 1882 at the Society of Arts exhibition of Modern English Pottery (Journal of the Society of Arts 30, 1882, 771, 921-2).
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Designed for: Universal Exhibition, Vienna 1873
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number