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Derby Porcelain

duesbury, crown, london, english, chelsea, factory, glaze, bow and japan

DERBY PORCELAIN. A porcelain fac tory was started in this English town in 1750 by William Duesbury assisted by Andrew Planche, a French refugee potter, and with the financial backing of a Derby banker named Heath. The venture was a success, and, in 1769, Duesbury purchased and ran the Chelsea porcelain works. In 1784 he brought the plant and workers to Derby. In 1776 he acquired the Bow porcelain factory and moved it, to gether with a number of artisans, to Derby. On Duesbury's death, in 1786, his son (same name) continued the works, but in 1795 he took in Michael Kean (a miniature painter) as partner, with the firm name Duesbury & Kean. Next year Duesbury died, to be succeeded by a third William Duesbury. In 1809 Robert Bloor, manager, bought the factory. Sickness caused him to engage John Thomason as man alter and a Mr. Clark, sculptor and painter. The latter took over the factory on Bloor's death (1846), but made financial failure, sold out to a Staffordshire firm and the works were closed in 1848. Some of the Bloor workers were, later, employed by Sampson Hancock to carry on a small factory, using the former styles. With royal patronage the firm became The Derby Crown Porcelain Company, Ltd., in 1877, to become, in 1890, The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company. It continues to this day.

Characteristics.— Derby shows little of for eign art tendency in her ware. In this she stands out distinct from her contemporaries (Bow, Chelsea, Worcester). Her designs show originality and are thoroughly. English. It was the time of the Adams brothers, Chippendale and Sheraton, and contemporary silversmithing and furniture are reflected. When the workers, molds and models were brought from Chelsea a number of pieces of exact similarity were made; they are the Chelsea-Derby ware that puzzles collectors.

Product.— In the earliest Derby period we know that "figures') were the chief production; Duesbury's notebook says so. We do not know of any of these existing. The later bisque (unglazed) groups and figures show extreme refinement; they are actual pieces of sculpture. Most of the Derby output consisted of tea, coffee, dinner and dessert services, delicately decorated; also flower baskets, vases, scent bottles, seals, etc. Bloor put into the market the accumulated stock of *seconds," covering up the blemishes with *Japan taste." decoration.

Decoration.— Among the styles of this fac tory are "Derby Japan," *Rock Japan," "Grecian Japan," "Witches Japan.° Following the Adams furniture motifs, we find vases and urns of Herculaneum model decorated with festoons of "husk" pattern (bellflower) in delicate borders, rosettes interrupting. The noted Derby "gros bleu," claret and canary made lovely back grounds. Some transfer-printing was done, but

Duesbury preferred the more expensive but artistic handpainting. Beautiful flower decora tion appears from talented artists (Billingsley's unrivaled roses). Last period shows profuse gilding.

Glaze.— ((Soft, lustrous, satiny" are the terms used by connoisseurs. Derby glaze was so soft it powders under a file; services used show wear on the surface. So soft is this glaze that the enamel colors of the decoration appear to have sunk into it almost like under glaze pigments. Bloor's glaze was harder.

Paste.— Of course early paste is likely to have been the same as Chelsea and Bow, glassy. Soapstone and bone-ash were added in the true Derby paste, later china clay. From 1770 we have a true pate tendre with close fracture and strongly translucent. Bloor paste is inferior.

Marks.— From 1769 to 1773 an anchor sur rounded by the Derby "D." In 1773 a crown with jewelled bows is added to the "D" (in blue, purple or puce). A crown surrounded by "Duesbury Derby" in gold appears. The crown was authorized by King George II and remained thereafter. Duesbury the Second period (1786 94) used crown and "cross batons" additional to last mark. Duesbury-Kean period used DK monogram. Duesbury III used "W. Duesbury 1803" surmounting a crown, cross batons below and D bottom of all. This was the last mark.

We find the crown in puce, blue, purple, green, lilac, rose, vermilion, black and (rarely) gold.

Artists.— Duesbury gathered in perhaps the finest artists of any English ceramic factory. There were R. Askew, flower painter; William Billingsley, the noted flower genius; Zachariah Bowman, landscapes and birds; John Haslem, flowers (later portrait painter to the queen) ; F. Duvivier, flowers; Michael Kean, miniatures; W. Pegg, plants and single flowers; J. Bacon, R.A., modeler; W. Coffee, modeler; Hill, landscapes; Brewer, figures and landscapes; Keys, gilder; and many equally as noted.

Bibliography.— Bemrose, W.,