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  • Place of origin:

    Swansea (made)
    London (decorated)

  • Date:

    1817-1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Billingsley, William, born 1758 - died 1828 (maker)
    Powell, John (decorator)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Joseph Henry Jacobs

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 7 []

Object Type
The wide, plain surfaces of such chocolate cups and stands of French 'Empire' style were ideal for displaying elaborate enamel painting. Such objects were often intended as 'cabinet' pieces to display the owner's taste and wealth, although this example may also have been used.

After his failed porcelain venture at Nantgarw, in 1814 the much-travelled ceramic decorator William Billingsley was invited by Lewis Weston Dillwyn of the Cambrian Pottery at Swansea to add prestigious porcelain to their manufacture. When the partnership was dissolved in 1817, many of the stockpiled porcelain blanks were sold to independent decorators such as the talented John Powell in London, where the market for such costly pieces lay. Powell alternated between decorating and dealing in china, and teaching his craft to others, notably to members of the Royal Family.

Although Paris hard-paste porcelain remained popular in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, it was the soft-paste porcelain of the Sévres factory which the British really craved, and which the factory had abandoned in 1802. When sales of factory blanks proved insufficient to satisfy the demand, English entrepreneurs such as William Billingsley perfected a glassy frit porcelain body with which they could imitate the Sévres paste as a perfect background for enamelling in the French or English style.

Physical description


Place of Origin

Swansea (made)
London (decorated)


1817-1820 (made)


Billingsley, William, born 1758 - died 1828 (maker)
Powell, John (decorator)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt

Marks and inscriptions

Marks: 'Powell, 91 Wimpole Street' in enamel on the base

Object history note

Made in William Billingsley's porcelain factory at Swansea, Wales; decorated in London by John Powell (active 1817-1820)

Descriptive line



Labels and date

British Galleries:
The tall, slightly flaring shape of the cup is based on French Empire forms that were copied by almost every porcelain factory in Europe between 1800 and 1820. Despite the difficulties of long years of war against Napoleon, French design was still greatly admired by British consumers. [27/03/2003]


Ceramics; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares


Ceramics Collection

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