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Dorothea

  • Object:

    Figure

  • Place of origin:

    Stoke-on-Trent (made)

  • Date:

    1847 (modelled)
    1865 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bell, John, born 1811 - died 1895 (designer)
    Minton (manufacturer)
    Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Parian porcelain

  • Museum number:

    44-1865

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122, case 2

Object Type
For more than a century before this piece was made genuine ancient classical sculpture in white marble had been one of the most expensive and superior forms of collectable art. It implied the continental European travel, an expensive education and aristocratic taste. It also suggested an intimate knowledge of Rome and the ancient world. Ownership of statuary porcelain, otherwise known as Parian ware, suggested a peripheral association with this highly exclusive world. When the statues became available as prizes in the Art Union lottery they became even more popular and accessible to the new middle classes. The Minton ceramic factory produced over 500 Parian figures between 1845 and 1910.

Materials & Making
Parian ware is a highly vitrified ceramic closer to European hard porcelains than English bone china. The basic materials for its manufacture are feldspar, Cornish clay and Cornish stone. 'Parian ware' was Minton's trade name for the material. It is largely impervious to damp and dirt and easily cleanable. Each part of a Parian figure was made in a separate mould. The smooth appearance of the finished figure was admired as much for the technical skill in its manufacture as for its aesthetic qualities.

Trading
At the Great Exhibition in London of 1851 more than ten manufacturers, including all the leading names in the British ceramic industry, included Parian in their displays. It was enthusiastically received both by critics and the Royal Family. One commentator wrote that Parian 'was becoming one of the most generally admired and gold-productive of all the achievements of ceramic art'. All the manufacturers charged high prices for their Parian wares from the outset. Even a popular figure such as Minton's Dorothea, registered in 1847, was sold for 2 guineas at time when many people were still earning œ1 per week or less. Parian was offered as a prize through the Art Union and other lotteries, which charged œ1 for a ticket in their annual ballots.

Subject Depicted
The original life-sized marble figure of this piece was originally made for Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures. It was commissioned from John Bell (1811-1895) in 1838 by Lord Lansdowne. The subject is from the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes' novel Don Quixote, part 1: 'They espied a youth dressed like a peasant stooping to bathe his lovely feet in a rivulet...the lovely maiden looked up...'

Physical description

Dorothea (from Cervantes' Don Quixote) is a reduced model of a life-size marble figure made in 1838 by John Bell for Lord Lansdowne. The model is made from a special form of biscuit porcelain which was named 'Parian' after the Greek marble which it intended to imitate.

Place of Origin

Stoke-on-Trent (made)

Date

1847 (modelled)
1865 (made)

Artist/maker

Bell, John, born 1811 - died 1895 (designer)
Minton (manufacturer)
Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Parian porcelain

Dimensions

Height: 35.5 cm, Width: 19 cm, Depth: 20 cm

Object history note

Designed by John Bell (born in Hepton, Suffolk, 1811, died in London, 1895) for Felix Summerly's Art Manufactures; made by Minton & Co., Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Historical significance: Dorothea was one of a number of models already in production at Minton's which were selected by the Art Union movement for use as prizes.

Descriptive line

Parian ware figure. British (Stoke-on-Trent), designed 1847, made 1865. Made by Minton's for Summerly's Art Manufactures, after a sculpture by John Bell.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Atterbury, Paul and Mauren Batkin. The Dictionary of Minton, Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1990. p.30.
Jones, Joan. Minton: The First Two Hundred Years of Design and Production. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press. 1993. pp.118-119.
See Object Information file in Ceramics and Glass Section offices.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The figure of Dorothea, a character from the Spanish novel 'Don Quixote', is a reduced model of the life-sized figure made by the artist John Bell in 1844 and was the most successful of his works. The Felix Summerly version was a bestseller within two months of its introduction and continued to sell well for the next 40 years. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

This figure was first produced by Minton in 1847.

Materials

Parian

Subjects depicted

Female

Categories

ELISE; British Galleries; Caricatures & Cartoons; Figures & Decorative ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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