Articles At A Glance
China Hand-Painted by Amateurs Gains New Respect
As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, January 2010
China painting that was considered a ladies accomplishment, along with needlework, in mid-Victorian England and Europe, made its way to America after the Civil War. By 1900 porcelain blanks were sent by the thousands from the Limoges factory in France to America where hobbyists, mostly women, decorated tea sets, bowls and other decorative objects. Until recently even fine examples were to be found at mall shows or gathering dust in antique shops. These days a variety of pieces are coming to auctions, still modestly priced and marked “Limoges, France” and sometimes with the name of the artist, and the date. These are not to be confused with the factory painted pieces done at the Limoges factory in France, that command higher prices when artist signed. A factory painted, signed punch bowl can sell for several thousand dollars while an amateur painted punch bowl can fetch perhaps $600 at auction.
China factories in America, Europe and the Orient also made and shipped blanks. American factories included Taylor and Knowles, Willets Mfg. Co. And Ott and Brewer.
Popular firms in Europe were Belleek, Havilland and Rosenthal. Nippon in Japan was also used.
In the 19th century it was taught in classes as “mineral” painting. The first academic class was organized by Benn Pitman, Director of the Cincinnati School of Design. By 1877 articles on china painting began appearing in the Ladies Home Journal and other magazines. In that same year a magazine devoted strictly to china painting, “The China Decorator” printed directions, designs and gave sources.
Many techniques were used by the amateur painters. Most often used was the over glaze technique where the painting is applied to a previously glazed and fired surface. The new colors were then refired.
CLUES: Collectors should look for interesting designs reflecting Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the Arts and Crafts eras. Be critical with the quality of the art. Many mediocre floral motifs were done by amateurs as well as the artists at the Limoges factory. Decide if the glazes, designs and color combinations are unusual? Signatures and dates add to the value and interest. Since china painting was done by people of all lifestyles do a little research. Perhaps the painter was a person with an interesting bio aside from china painting.
Check out the forms. Rare objects can up the value. A find would be a “photo album”. It resembles a flat, porcelain waste basket with two compartments. This would be from the late Victorian period when it was fashionable to pass it around at dinner parties.
Estate and garage sales offer good opportunities for discoveries. Not everybody appreciates painted china
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