Harlequinade thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A


1960 (made), ca. 1955 (designed)
Place Of Origin

White side plate with hand-painted wavy grid pattern in black fine lines and red thick lines.

object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Earthenware with hand-painted underglaze decoration
Brief Description
'Harlequinade' pattern plate, earthenware with hand-painted underglaze decoration, made by Empire Porcelain Co., England, between 1950 and early 1960s
Physical Description
White side plate with hand-painted wavy grid pattern in black fine lines and red thick lines.
  • Diameter: 17.4cm
  • Height: 1.8cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Harlequinade / Empire Porcelain Co. / Stoke-on-Trent' (Printed)
  • 'England / 3-60' (Printed)
Object history
This tartan design was among the first designs on the Contemporary 'coupe' plate shape. First made by Midwinter and J. & G. Meakin and was copied by a vast number of manufacturers. This version was sold through Woolworths and was some of the cheapest pottery available at the time. The roughness of the hand-painted decoration catered to the contemporary taste for casual dining.
Historical context
Plate is representative of the consumer demand for Contemporary tableware and consequent boom in the production of these goods in post-war Britiain. Bright simple decoration is a predictable reaction to the austerity of the wares enforced by government regulations until 1948. In order to speed up production, manufacturers used stencil patterns and air-brushing techniques. This decoration would most likely have only been used for tea sets: the loud colours and patterns would have been considered too strong for formal dining.

[Susan McCormack, 'British Design at Home', p.143]
Bibliographic Reference
Walker, Susannah. Contemporary/Moderne: British Mass-produced Tableware of the 1950s. Thesis (M.A.) - V&A/RCA Course in the History of Design, 1990, fig. 45.
Accession Number

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record createdFebruary 4, 2000
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