Published 22nd April 2013
When it comes to decorating porcelain plaques the Germans are at the forefront and particularly those at the KPM (Konigliche Porzellan Manufactur) manufactory in Berlin whose work was considered superior even to that at Meissen. The golden years were undoubtedly from 1840 through to around 1900.
A KPM Berlin plaque of the Young Christ after Hofmann circa 1890 - 1900 (FS14/614)
The most popular plaques were painted with religious or mythological subject matter inhabited with coquettish maids or the scantily clad, but topographical scenes and faithful copies of existing paintings also featured. Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt and Guido Reni were amongst those most commonly mimicked. Whilst only copies, they were of exceptional quality – you might think it is hard putting a brush to canvas, but I guess painting on a plaque and seeing how it fares in the kiln is perhaps more unpredictable. Once completed, a porcelain plaque has the benefit of retaining all the brightness of colour it had at conception and unlike paper or canvas it will not fade.
A French porcelain plaque Halt during a Hunt after Watteau, mid 19th century (FS18/558)
Painting on porcelain was also undertaken in France and in Britain to a lesser degree. Illustrated is a mid 19th century plaque which with a little artistic licence is a copy of a 1720 work by Jean Antione Watteau entitled Halt during a Hunt, which is currently part of the Wallace Collection. However, my job is all about attention to detail, so I noticed that the rifles depicted were percussion rifles (not flintlocks) which weren’t invented in 1720. More concerning is that the pastoral idyll is broken by the fact that all of the rifles are not only primed ready to fire, but are in the hands of children, was there no Health and Safety?
Armed with a weapon from the future (FS18/558)