This week’s posts will focus on all things royal (after all, there is a royal wedding taking place on Saturday!).
We have highlighted items in our collection in previous posts with royal connections, including the pair of George II stools that belonged to HRH Prince Frederick Lewis and a pair of chairs that came from the collection of Marie Antoinette at St Cloud.
Today we are taking a closer look at Royal Worcester, one of the oldest English porcelain houses that dates back to the 18th century. In 1751, Dr John Wall and William Davis gathered fourteen businessmen to establish the Worcester Tonquin Manufactory at Warmstry House on the River Severn. Pieces created during the early history of Worcester under the guidance and supervision of Dr Wall are known as ‘First Period’ or ‘Dr Wall’ period and are highly prized by modern day collectors.
The location of the factory on the River Severn allowed for the company to sell their wares easily for transport via the river. On a tour of the factory in 1764, Valentine Green noted the huge amounts of coal required to fire the wares, commenting, ‘many of the finer articles pass through eight kilns several times, and are burnt in the whole, near 200 hours.’
All of the painting and gilding at Worcester during the 18th century was carried out by hand, with particularly fine designs coming from the workshop of James Giles. Giles took an apprenticeship with a jeweller name John Arthur in St Martins-in-the-Field before he began working in Worcester beyond the Severn Bridge in 1745. While in Worcester he likely worked directly with the factory, which established a hearty business relationship for the next few decades. Giles ran a successful workshop from 82 Berwick Street in Soho from 1763, and the Worcester factory supplied him with white porcelain for him to paint and decorate.
Have a look through below at a selection of First Period Worcester porcelain in our collection with decoration by the James Gile atelier.