Robert Hancock, the Pupil of Ravenet - Introduction of Transfer Printing upon Porcelain - Colour and Designs - " Lord Coventry" Pattern - "Japanese Fan" Pattern - Worcester Porcelain par excellence - Copies of " Mandarin China Made at Worcester - Decline of Artistic Designs under Thomas and Joseph Flight - The Chamberlain Period - Formation of the "Royal Worcester
Works" - The Factory Museum
When the Battersea Enamel Works were closed, in 1756, many of the workmen migrated to Chelsea, Bow, and Worcester.
Amongst these was Robert Hancock, a clever pupil of the well-known French engraver Ravenet.
Milk-jug of Worcester china, in Hancock's tranfer and enamel colours, representing "Ruins." The saucer is also in transfer printing, showing a "Tea in a Garden " scene, by R. Hancock From the South Kensington Museum
Hancock introduced transfer printing upon porcelain at Worcester. This was a kind of decoration which had been in use at Battersea upon enamel and also upon cream ware made by Wedgwood and other potters. It was produced by taking an impression upon paper from a copper-plate. After the ware had been heated and sized, the paper was pressed upon it, and, since the ink was made with linseed oil, the impression remained.
The colour first employed in transfer printing was black, but later red, brown, purple, and green were used. Some of the well-known designs are the "Tea in a Garden" scene, "Ruins," "Milkmaids in a Farmyard," "Courtship," "Birds," and "The Hunt," but perhaps the finest are portraits of celebrities. The "King of Prussia" mug decorated in this style is much sought after by collectors. Other portraits are those of George II., Pitt, Shakespeare, the Marquis of Granby, George III., and Queen Charlotte.
Hancock generally signed his pieces either with his name, "R. Hancock, fecit," or "R. H., Worcester," the initials generally used as a monogram. After a time transfer printing was used in conjunction with washes of enamel colours, the outlines being printed and afterwards filled in with colours.
Needless to say, Hancock's Worcester porcelain has attracted the attention of the French forger. Those who are not familiar with the difference between Worcester and French porcelain should carefully examine the en-graving by means of a magnifying glass, when it will be found that upon Worcester the transfer is beautifully executed. - a line engraving in which the lines are perfectly clear and bold, yet delicate, whereas in the fake the picture is made up of a scries of irregular scratches. A very interesting kind of decoration used at Worcester is one in which a spray of rosebuds and leaves, of natural size, and in low relief, covers the plate or dish from rim to rim. It is known as the " Lord Coventry" pattern, and is said to have been invented for Lord Coventry, who was blind, in order that he might enjoy by touch that which he was unable to see. This is a pretty little story, but unfortunately it has been proved that the pattern had previously been used at Bow and Chelsea, and it was most probably introduced at Worcester by some workman who had settled there after the forme factories had been closed. The rosebuds, leaves, stalks, and insects which make up the pattern were generally painted in natural colours but it is occasionally met with in underglaze blue.
Worcester china cup, transfer printed.
The subject is the " Tea in a Garden" scene, by R. Hancock
From the South Kensington Museum
The "Japanese Fan" Pattern
A decoration known as the "Japanese Fan" pattern is found upon Worcester porcelain of fine quality. It is an exact imitation of an Oriental design used alike in Japan, China, and in Holland upon a superior delft ware. The colours are red, gold, blue, and green, and the mark is generally a feigned Chinese seal or numeral, but the crescent and other marks are sometimes found upon it.
Flower-painting was beautifully executed at Worcester. At first it took the form of simple sprays, sprigs, and bouquets. These were painted in natural colours, and were of small size, the edges being lined with red or brown in place of gold. Later on, after the closing of the Chelsea works, many painters migrated to Worcester, where they introduced the fine ground colours which had been in use at the former factory. These were used upon vases, and as borders with rich gilding. Services with apple green and mazarine-blue borders, with flowers or fruit exquisitely painted, were largely made at this time, and some magnificent dessert services survive to this day.
The " King of Prussia" mug. A rare piece of transfer printed china by Hancock, much valued by collectors
The Worcester porcelain par excellence so much sought after by the con-noisseur, and for which very big prices are given, is that in which the ground is covered with a rich deep blue, painted to represent the scales of a fish, and known as "Salmon Scale." This groundwork is broken by panels outlined in gold, and enclosing flowers naturally treated, or in imitation of the Japanese, and insects. The most valuable, however, are those pieces which are painted with panels of landscapes, exotic birds, and butterflies. Vases of this description command huge prices. The square mark is generally found upon scale Worcester in blue underglaze, being an imitation of a Chinese seal.
This is, again, a kind of porcelain largely copied in France, mark and all, but those of my readers who studied the article on porcelain (page 9, Part 1), with the directions there given, have no difficulty in detecting the forgery. Upon some rare services the scale ground was painted in red of a salmon tinge, but it is not so effective as the blue. This style of decoration owes its origin to ancient Chinese vases of the Ming dynasty - that is to say, vases made prior to 1643; upon some of these we find a ground covered with red scales, painted to represent the scales of a carp.
Hancock's transfer is sometimes found in association with a blue scale ground. Here
A specimen of Flight and Barr's work, a dish in Oriental taste, in red and green, heavily gilt
This period is marked by less artistic feeling and more elaborate work
From the museum at the Royal Worcester Pottery Works the outline is in transfer, and is filled in with washes of coloured enamels, the design generally taking the form of a classic building or ruin in the centre of a landscape.
I have already referred to the faithful copies of Chinese blue and white made at Worcester. These were, if possible, surpassed by that known as "Mandarin" china, which was copied here so beautifully that, judged by decoration alone, it is impossible to distinguish between the Worcester and its Chinese prototype.
The ornamentation on this porcelain took the form of Chinese figures, jars, vases, and stands, painted in clear fine enamels over glaze. It was chiefly employed in the decoration of tea-services; the cups without handles, the cream-jugs high and narrow in shape with a small pointed lip, and the handle with a ridge running down the centre.
For some years after the works had passed into the hands of Thomas Flight and his son Joseph, old forms and styles of decoration were used, but gradually more elaborate designs and less artistic feeling began to prevail. Painting was still finely executed, but the subjects became more mechanical.
Mr. Robert Chamberlain, who had been an employe at the Worcester china factory, left the company soon after it had been taken over by the Flights, and set up for himself in King Street, Worcester. Here he at first painted china which had been supplied to him in the white by Thomas Turner, of Caughley, but later he made several gorgeous services for well-known people.
It was during the Chamberlain period that large services were frequently marked upon one piece only. In the case of a tea-service the name of the maker may generally be found on the inside of the lid of the teapot or sugar-basin.
In 1800 Thomas Grainger, who had also been employed at the original Worcester factory, started on his own account, and for some years there were three manufactories at work in the city. These were, later on - in 1880 - merged into one Under the title
"Royal Worcester Works."
Several bodies and glazes have been used during the many years that this factory has been in existence, and it is only those that were made in the early days which show the green tinge when looked through in a strong light. The later bodies used at the end of the Flight and Barr periods, and by Chamberlain and Grainger, were similar in composition and appearance to those in use at several other English factories of the time; it is, therefore, difficult to distinguish between them.
Marks that may be found on Worcester china. Pieces signed by Hancock do not generally bear any factory mark
The Royal Worcester Factory
The Royal Worcester factory is, by the courtesy of the owners, open to visitors. It includes a museum containing a magnificent collection of every kind of porcelain made there from the earliest days. These are classified and arranged so as to be a great help to visitors in the identification of old Worcester porcelain.
Amongst the many marks found upon Worcester porcelain are the Dresden crossed swords in blue underglaze. These can be distinguished by the numerals 9 and 91, which may be seen between the points of the swords. Pieces which are signed by Hancock do not generally bear any factory mark. During the later period the maker's name was used as a mark, and after the visit of King George III., in 1788, the name or initials of the master were frequently surmounted by a crown.