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Candlestick

Candlestick

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1770 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bow Porcelain Factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber

  • Museum number:

    414:16/A-1885

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 2, shelf 5

The earliest porcelain figures were made for the dessert course of grand dinners and replaced the sugar paste and wax figures made since medieval times for royal feasts. Originally intended as expressions of dynastic power and to celebrate political allegiances, by the 16th century allegorical themes had been introduced into these table settings. By the 18th century many were entirely decorative. Meissen in Germany was the first factory to make porcelain figures for the dessert. It set the sculptural conventions followed by porcelain factories elsewhere.

This figure of a kneeling black woman is probably modelled after a Meissen original and has the practical function of serving as a candlestick (with its pair 414:16-1885). The figure wears a long floral robe and a blue sash around her waist. Her arms are raised to a white veil from which flower petals emerge, forming the greasepan of the candlestick. Black Africans offered exotic associations and were a marker of luxury within the English home. In the 18th century about 10,000 Africans are estimated to have been living in England. Many worked as, often unpaid, domestic staff.

Physical description

Candlestick of soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and slightly gilded, of a black woman kneeling on her right knee with her arms raised to fountain plumes emerging from her peaked white veil that forms the grease-pan, and she wears a long floral robe with yellow sleeves, open at the chest, with a blue and gold sash tied around her waist, and she is supported on a rococo-scrolled base with applied flowers and foliage.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

ca. 1770 (made)

Artist/maker

Bow Porcelain Factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilded

Dimensions

Height: 15.9 cm

Object history note

One of a pair with 414:16-1885 (Sch. I 95); but see also below.
One of the pair was purchased by Lady Charlotte Schreiber from Eyers, London, for £14 in 1867, and the other was given to her by a Mr Martin in the same year

Descriptive line

Candlestick of soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and slightly gilded, of a black woman kneeling on her right knee with her arms raised to fountain plumes emerging from her peaked white veil, made by Bow Porcelain Factory, London, ca. 1770.

Materials

Porcelain

Techniques

Painted; Gilded

Subjects depicted

Woman

Categories

Black History; Ceramics; Figures & Decorative ceramics; Porcelain

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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