|Molded Stoneware, Basalt & Parian|
A rare variant of one of the most intriguing teapot forms in British stoneware. The Chine...
A rare variant of one of the most intriguing teapot forms in British stoneware.
The Chinese-derived form defies the expectation that teapots be round, consisting of four curved walls joined to form a swelling cube form--raised from the table surface by tiny feet at the corners. Each wall is filled almost to the edges by a circular oriental relief medallion depicting a stylized prunus tree against a densely patterned ground. This form, while not common, was produced by several Staffordshire potters in cane and feldspathic bodies as well as basalt.
It is the lid, however, that constitutes the most distinctive feature of these teapots. The flat lid surface--interrupted only by a pierced steam vent--serves as the floor for an extraordinary filigree dome composed of prunus branches and blossoms--and mostly air. The delicate structure allows steam to escape with a fragile flair that belies its practical function. In most examples a lion finial rests upon this airy perch.
This pot sports a most unexpected and extremely rare finial, however, a reclining beaver who raises his nose to catch a scent and whose tail curves along the edge of the branch network. The explanation for this incongruous combination of new world wild life and oriental form lies in the Staffordshire potters' practice of what we would today call target marketing. Clearly this little vessel was intended to be shipped overseas to a North American consumer--very possibly in Canada.
The extreme rarity of the beaver teapot--we have never encountered another example in person or in references--might be explained by the fragility of the lid. Or perhaps the potter's water rodent gambit was commercially unsuccessful. Whatever, the pot stands as perhaps the only manufactured piece we have offered that approaches a unique status.
|Dimensions:||Height 4 3/4 in.; width 7 5/8 in.|
|Condition:||Professional restoration to edge of handle and minor spout roughness (photos available)
Examples of teapots in this form are known marked Spode, Neale, and Turner. In Black Basal...
Examples of teapots in this form are known marked Spode, Neale, and Turner. In Black Basalt: Wedgwood And Contemporary Manufacturers, Diana Edwards illustrates an unmarked teapot identical in form and medallion design--unfortunately with an incomplete lid--which she attributes to Turner. It is to Diana that we owe our attribution and dating for our example.