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Too Beautiful For Words 13

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To collect Limoges you have to enjoy, no, a stronger word than that, love porcelain, else why would you collect Limoges?  With that thought in mind, to my thinking it follows that if you were exposed to other kinds of fine porcelain you might enjoy and grow to love them as well.  That’s really how it happened to me.  I was exposed to all kinds of fine porcelain but it was only as I became aware of the subtle differences in the various kinds of porcelain that I grew to love French porcelain, commonly called Limoges, and English porcelain, commonly referred to as Bone China, German porcelain the most renowned of which is Meisen, Italian porcelain, the most well known of which is Capodimonte and, of course, Chinese porcelain which is the oldest of all porcelains.  

If you have read any of the material in this catalog dealing with the discovery of porcelain then you know that Marco Polo found it when he traveled to China in the 13th century.  When he returned home, a number of years later, he brought with him this miracle ceramic that the Chinese had been making for many years. Europeans in several countries tried for many years to duplicate it but it wasn’t until the 18th century that German porcelain makers discovered that all important component called kaolin and not until a good many years later was it discovered in France. Interestingly, it has never been found in England and they use the ash of cremated animal bones to harden and give substance to their porcelain, hence the name Bone China. The discovery of kaolin turned out to be the key ingredient in the making of porcelain. Kaolin gave it stability and so it has remained the key ingredient ever since.

There are considerable differences in porcelain, differences in the way it is made, in the content of it, in the way it looks, in how it feels to the touch, how it sounds when tapped, how it reacts over long periods of time because, in the end, all fine porcelain has a shared desire; it wants to become an antique!  Porcelain can have an extraordinarily long life.  I have pieces that date prior to the discovery of kaolin, that was when Limoges porcelain was soft paste porcelain prior to 1789. It is still beautiful, in remarkable condition and I enjoy it on a constant basis.  I don’t handle it very often and I don’t permit anyone else to handle it  but everyone who visits my home always enjoys seeing it.

With all of this in mind I bought the following pieces to give you a little idea of what the various kinds of porcelain look like.  These are all made of Limoges porcelain but they are finished and decorated in the style of other famous porcelains.

A.  The Chinese Water Jug Box. Many utilitarian pieces were made because until porcelain there had been no adequate way to contain fluids hence all sorts of practical containers were made including water jugs.  This one is decorated in typical Chinese style with the figures in bas relief, a mandarin with his servant holding a parasol the better to protect him from a strong sun.  They used clear colors and the colors were limited because the color palette was meager at first. Notice how simple the shape is, nothing very elaborate.  The clasp is a Chinese woman walking beneath her parasol.  Our price: $191.90.

The following item is by Special Order only.
B. The Meisen Mouse Box. This piece is copied from an actual Meisen piece that was made between the years 1740 and 1750.  Meisen did not do a great deal of relief work on their porcelain.  Instead they did very delicate and detailed painting.  Their figures were very precise. Overall, Meisen porcelain is modeled with more detail than Limoges and has an appearance of greater delicacy.  As well, they used a softer color palette not using strong colors at all.  Inside, a detail of the floral in great detail and the name Meisen and the years in which this piece was made. The clasp is a flower.  Our price: $224.90.  

C. The Capodimonte Shell Box.  This piece is copied from an actual piece of Capodimonte which was made between 1750 and 1755.  Capodimonte has an entirely different feel to it than other   porcelains.  It feels thicker, not nearly as delicate, heartier is the word that comes to mind.  The modeling is not as fine nor is it as detailed. For example: if you look at this piece closely you will see that there are no corners or points to it.  Shells have ridges that often are very tiny but not in this reproduction of them. Here everything is rounded off and the ridges are just suggestions rather than actual ridges.  Also, notice the color palette.  It is very strong high shades that become quite strong and no part of the porcelain is left unpainted as opposed to all of the other porcelains where often parts are glazed but not painted in color. Looking at the box, boisterous is the word that comes to mind.  A strange word to use for porcelain but that is how I see Capodimonte.  It reminds me of many people speaking and laughing at once where most of the other porcelains  are like single voices speaking quietly in ladylike tones. Inside, painted, Capodimonte and the dates for this piece.  Our price: $279.90.
 
D. The English Bone China Cat Box. The greatest difference between English porcelain and all others is that is uses the ash of animal bones to give stability to the porcelain. The hand of it is  different than Limoges and Meisen and I think it is crisper than either Limoges or Meisen. I find myself being extremely careful when I handle cups of English China for fear of chipping them even though it almost never happens. It lends itself to great detail and very fine modeling much as porcelain made with koalin does. The English are noted for their porcelain and there are many different kinds made as opposed to Limoges being the main French porcelain and Meisen being the main German porcelain.  England produces a very wide variety of porcelains a number of which are quite distinctive; Chelsea,  Derby, Lowestoft, Staffordshire, Spode, Minton, Worcester, Rockingham, Coalport, Wedgewood and others.  They use a stronger color palette than  Meisen uses and use it differently than Limoges does.  Often the body of the piece is white and the color is relegated to the pattern entirely.  On this piece the pattern leaves most of the cat in white glaze and the variation of the Tobacco Leaf pattern uses very strong colors and only sparingly on the body of the cat.  Inside, a detail of the Tobacco Leaf pattern. The clasp is a mouse.  Retail: About $245.00.  Our price: $219.90.

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