Worcester porcelain versus Bow: A score draw or a loss for London?

Published 26th January 2013

Mention English 18th century porcelain to anyone and I guess most people think of Worcester. Whilst a handful of factories including Bow stole a march on Worcester by several years, they all fell fairly quickly by the wayside, leaving it to prosper right into the 21st century.

 a worcester porcelain bowl circa 1755 in the chinese manner

A Worcester porcelain bowl circa 1755 in the Chinese manner (FS17/86)

As the first factories struggled to perfect their art it is often difficult to discern a consistency in the paste or body, Bow for instance can often be quite opaque, (lot 19) other times a muddy orange (lot 12) and sometimes almost translucent white (lot 13). Worcester porcelain on the other hand quite quickly got their act together and their paste is ‘relatively consistently a pale blue/green or a straw colour when a light is shone through it.

 a worcester porcelain two quails cup in the kakiemon palette circa 1758

A Worcester porcelain Two Quails cup in the Kakiemon palette circa 1758 (FS17/92)

Bow meanwhile had a fairly consistent range of palettes favouring either blue and white, famille rose or Kakiemon to decorate their predominantly Chinese or Japanese inspired porcelain. Worcester however, seem to display a very broad and versatile range and style of decoration. It might be argued that because Bow was, in comparison, short lived it never had the opportunity to diversify, but the pieces shown here where all made within five years and overlap with Bow porcelain.

 a worcester porcelain saucer with 'european' flowers circa 1760 in the meissen manner

A Worcester porcelain saucer with 'European' flowers circa 1760 in the Meissen manner (FS17/95)

Maybe that is why Worcester survived, it had a consistent product, but was able to produce Chinese, Japanese and European inspired pieces whilst retaining the ability to come up with innovate decoration of their own. Maybe they were just bigger with a larger pool of decorators, or they just got lucky, what do you think?

a worcester porcelain coffe cup with 'novel' european landscape decoration circa 1755

A Worcester porcelain coffe cup with 'novel' European landscape decoration circa 1755 (FS17/97)




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