01 March 2013

Spode and Spring

Curtis's Botanical Magazine  Illustration 4 
Our UK climate, and our own particular location in the Staffordshire Moorlands, means our garden is almost dormant for 6 months, followed by 6 months of riotous growth. We always await spring with great anticipation and when the spring flowers finally appear from the soggy winter mess it is lovely to see primroses, hellebores, narcissus, tulips, crocus, cyclamen and daffodils. With our proximity to 'The Potteries' (Stoke-on-Trent) it somehow seems appropriate that I garden on clay! 

So what is the Spode connection?

Readers of this blog will perhaps know of my love for botanical subjects which decorate Spode. And you can find my Spode-spring connections in older blogs: Spring is here... and Spode and Botanical designs.

There are spring flowers on many Spode pieces. These can be plainly printed in one colour, printed with hand colouring or fully handpainted, and at all periods of the factory. And there are parian figures and busts representing spring. Illustrated here is the parian figure Spring Flowers, which also had a male companion figure. It was modelled after the sculptor Cumberworth and his work Paul and Virginia, which were made as parian statues and as a group by the company.


S163 Spring Flowers c1875
If you have an interest in parian figures from the Spode factory you need Robert Copeland's comprehensive book on the subject called Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain. It is detailed on my booklist page.

There are some Spode 20th century designs with spring in their name. My favourites are the spring flowers from 18th century illustrations in Curtis's Botanical Magazine which were used on older pieces from the early 1800s. Illustrated here, (thank you Judie Siddall), is an earthenware Copeland & Garrett piece featuring a centre of Cyclamen coum (Curtis's Botanical Magazine illustration 4). The border is of convolvulus, a favourite of gardeners in the early 1800s but often regarded now as a pernicious weed.

At the end of this blog there is also an image of the detail of a bone china dessert plate by Charles Ferdinand Hürten (more about him here). It is about 9 inches in diameter with sprays of flowers, a lot of raised gold and exquisite jewelling but I also found a lively-looking tulip which I thought appropriate to show! The shape of the piece is Madrid shape and it is 'fully pierced' - parts of the design are cut out when the piece is leather hard before its first firing. All done by hand, this plate is from what would have been one of the most expensive services available from the Spode factory. You can see a plate in another pierced shape, again decorated by Hürten, here.


Copeland & Garrett dessert plate, 1833-1847
Back of the cyclamen plate,
showing the Spode factory's tendency to multiple backstamps

Enlarged detail of tulip on dessert plate, c1888
notice the raised gold and the jewelled white and turquoise spots