Aesthetic Period Transferware

TCR02
TCR02

TCN88
TCN88

TCQ45
TCQ45

TCL55
TCL55

TCP77
TCP77

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Aesthetic Period Transferware

British transferware potters seldom let a potentially profitable trend pass by, and they sailed full steam into the mania for all things Japanese that washed over England in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The result was the last creative flowering of the transferware phenomenon.

Japanese exports electrified the English market following the mid century opening of trade with Japan. Transfer design was influenced, not only by Japanese ceramics, but also wallpapers, textiles, prints and all manner of imported artifacts and gimcracks. The resulting new characteristics in transferware include

  • Asymmetrical composition and the breakdown of the former border/center formula
  • A new emphasis on the plate's surface with images and motifs that appear to be pasted down scrapbook style
  • The appearance of Japanese pattern elements - fretwork grounds, banner motifs, round Japanese crests ("mons")
  • Inclusion of Japanese and other exotic images - cranes, carp, bamboo and other tropical flora, cherry blossoms, geishas and Japanese peasants

The period also saw a preference for brown transfer, often on an ivory ground. Overglaze polychrome enameling took on new importance, creating numerous variants of the same pattern, often in startlingly fresh color combinations.

In keeping with the "art for art's sake" philosophy of the Aesthetic Movement, tableware took on a new decorative function. Wedgwood and other potters produced "rack" plates, intended for display, not for the serving of dinner. With these the public took another step in the recognition of china as a collectible commodity.