|18th/19th Century Porcelain|
18th and 19th Century Porcelain
The English potter had a characteristic way of dealing with competition: he copied it. In the first half of the 18th century the ceramic of first choice on the English market was porcelain - either that which had been imported from Asia or the products of newly founded continental porcelain works. The British potter wanted a piece of this action, but faced a problem of resources; Britain lacked deposits of key ingredients for porcelain making.
In the 1750's, however, a number of ingenious potters attempted to duplicate the qualities of porcelain - especially translucency - by substituting natively available materials into the clay formulas. The resulting products are most often referred to as "soft paste." The next three decades witnessed an intricate history of secret formulas, espionage, rivalries, cooperation, mergers, and splits as the English china industry established itself with such principal players as Bristol, Bow, Chelsea, Liverpool, Worcester, Derby, New Hall and Caughley. While techniques may have been developmental, the product was excellent. These are the most prized of English porcelains, famous for an inviting warmth that contrasted with the coldness of Asian and continental products.
As the 19th century approached, bone ash began to be added to the china formula, pioneered by relative late comers to the porcelain field, Spode and Minton. By 1810, the resulting bone china had swept the field, ever after dominating English china production and representing one of England's chief contributions to world ceramics.
The principal of copying your rivals extended to decoration as the English potters first modeled wares after Chinese blue and white, then Asian colored enameled ware such as bold Japanese Imari. The rococo and neoclassical styles of the continental makers were also aped by the voracious English designers. Later in the nineteenth century the sophisticated internationalism of the aesthetic movement led to sources as varied as Persian tiles, Japanese metalwork, textiles and prints, and European ceramics of the renaissance.