Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Home Beautiful: The Copeland Ewer, 1850

Porcelain Ewer
W. T. Copeland, 1850
Stoke-on-Trent, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Made in 1850 by the famed firm of W.T. Copeland of Stoke-on-Trent, England, this ornate ewer--in the classical shape associated with the French Renaissance--was not created to be used, but was rather meant primarily as a decorative object. In fact, this special piece was truly made as a means of demonstrating the proficiency and skill of Copeland’s modelers and decorators. The vessel boasts handsome Italian landscape scenes on each side. Copeland's chief painter, Daniel Lucas, is responsible for these handsome landscapes which nod at Eighteenth Century French porcelain.

Perhaps this ewer was a prototype for some of the pieces which Copeland displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Copeland enjoyed considerable success at the Crystal Palace. There, the firm was awarded a prize medal for the “general excellence” of its fine porcelain. Of particular note was a vase with similar gilt ornamentation and landscape scenes which garnered much praise. For the next fifty-one years, this lovely ewer was in the collection of London’s Museum of Practical Geology before being transferred, along with a host of other objects, to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1901. The Museum of Practical Geology listed the piece in its 1855 catalogue of pottery and porcelain as “a single-handled porcelain vase, gilt and painted with landscapes.” The ground color was described as “The Queen’s Lilac.” 

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