Scenes of Derby & Derbyshire on Derby Porcelain.

This exhibition features the work of decorators at the three Derby porcelain factories, reproducing scenes in the town of Derby, important landmarks and buildings within the county of Derbyshire and of scenes and features in the Derbyshire countryside.

Given the great beauty and diversity found within Derbyshire, it is perhaps unsurprising that scenes and landscapes of Derby and Derbyshire feature frequently on the work produced by all the Derby factories.  These can vary from general landscapes to specific sites of beauty, from stately homes to views of the town, now city, of Derby.  These views have long been prized by collectors for adding a special link to their lovely Derby porcelain.

The Nottingham Road Factory.

It was around the time of the introduction of the puce crossed batons mark at Derby c1784 that it became more fashionable to decorate porcelain services with landscapes.  Before this time, landscapes were a little more stylised with more of an oriental influence.  In the years that followed, the talented team of decorators at Derby were able to reproduce with more detail the scenes around them on the services which were being produced. 

Initially the scenes were a little vague in their attribution of location, the opportunity for the decorators to visit the places was limited and much may have been left to their imagination.  Sometimes it was possible for them to work from watercolours, there are some especially fine ones by Zachariah Boreman which formed the basis for some of the scenes on a number of services.  (See DPIS Journal 3, page 70 for the article by Bambery and Ledger.)  It is not our intention to dwell on these or other watercolours by Derby artists here, for the purposes of this exhibition we are concentraing on their work on porcelain.

A cabaret set decorated in pattern 137 dating to c1785-90.
  • A teapot, decorated to one side with "On the Trent, Derbyshire" and "Near Matlock, Derbyshire" to the other side.

  • A tray decorated "View in Dove Dale, Derbyshire"

  • A cream jug with the title "On the Trent, Derbyshire"

  • A sucrier marked "On the Derwent"

  • A saucer marked "Near Chatsworth, Derbyshire"

  • A coffee cup with the titled scene "Dove Dale, Derbyshire"

  • Tea cup with title "Near Little Eaton, Derbyshire".  This cup is photographed in "Landscapes on Derby and Worcester Porcelain" by Twitchett and Sandon page 19, with description on page 18.  In the book it is incorrectly described as being in pattern 131, and incorrectly as being marked in puce.  (Separate to, but matching, the cabaret set).

  • (Private Collection)

Other Nottingham Road Pieces.
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Here we have a pair of small porter mugs measuring about 9cm high.  It is interesting to note that whilst both have different scenes, both are titled "On The Trent, Derbyshire".  They date to c1795 and are both marked in blue.

(Private collection)

Another porter mug, this one is quite considerably later than the two above, coming from the Bloor period c1830.  It is marked with the circular Bloor mark and title in red, "Willersley Castle, Derbyshire".  This 18th century manor house is situated above the River Derwent at Cromford, Derbyshire.  It was built for the family of industrialist Richard Arkwright, the family remaining there until 1922.  It operates today as a Christian Guild hotel.  It would be interesting to research whether this porter mug was originally made for the Arkwright family.

 

Also from the Bloor period, this plate is decorated with the titled landscape "View of Derby".  It is marked to the reverse in red with the title in script, together with the round Bloor Derby mark dating it to c1830.

(Private collection)

Very important tea cup, painted with the only known contemporary view of the
Nottingham Road China Works.  Dates to c1820, Derby mark in red. 
(Image courtesy of Royal Crown Derby Museum).

The King Street Factory.

After the closure of the Nottingham Road factory in 1848, a number of its former employees opened another, smaller, factory in King Street, Derby, from where they continued to produce and sell quality porcelain.  It was natural for them to continue the tradition of painting local scenes from town and country on their porcelain, especially as they relied a little more than before on the local market to sell their produce. 

 

Continuing in the traditions of the old Derby factory, they employed some of the finest of all decorators and produced some fabulous wares.  It was during this time that the tradition of decorators being allowed to sign their work began, so we can quite conclusively attribute work to the correct artist. 

To the left are six examples of Derbyshire scenes from the King Street Factory -

  • First is a large pot pourri, but lacking its cover.  It actually measures about 16cm high.  The title to the reverse in red script is "Long Bridge Derby 1750".  Cherryl Head attributes the painting to Sampson Hancock as it bears his mark and dates it to c1875-80.  "The Long Bridge 1750" is the title of an engraving held by the Derby Local Studies Library and is believed to refer to the date when the engraving was made.

  • Plate with a view of Kedleston Hall, titled "Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire" and signed H. S. Hancock, together with the usual crossed swords mark also in red.

  • Plate decorated with a view of Repton Church by Edwin Prince.  It is titled and signed to the front on the lower left of the scene.  It is marked to the reverse with the King Street crossed batons mark in red, together with the initials JW for the gilder John Winfield.  (John Winfield tended to do a crossed baton mark, not a crossed sword mark.)  (This dish is in the collection at Calke Abbey and is reproduced here by kind permission of the National Trust)

  • Plate with a scene titled "Derby Town Hall in 1732", signed by Edwin Prince, both title and signature on the front.  It was probably copied from an earlier print.  The gilding was done by John Winfield, his initials can be seen by the foot rim, together with 12, Winfield's gilder number at Nottingham Road which he continued to use at King Street.  It should also be noted the mark has crossed batons, not crossed swords, another trait that Winfield continued from Nottingham Road.  Of further interest is the impressed crossed swords mark, found very infrequently on plates.  Much of Prince's work for King Street was done outside the factory at Overstrand and this plate is almost certainly one such piece.  Dates to c1880-1895.

  • Dish with central landscape entitled "Calke. Abby. Derbyshire" in red, with the usual King Street crossed swords mark also in red.  Decorated by Harry Sampson Hancock with his initials in red by the foot rim.  It should be noted that "Abby" is spelt incorrectly.  (This dish is in the collection at Calke Abbey and is reproduced here by kind permission of the National Trust.)

  • King Street saucer with a view of Matlock by Edwin Prince, signed with initials.  Marked to the reverse in red with the title, crossed batons mark (see the item above for explanation) and intials JW for gilder John Winfield, together with the word Derby incised.  Dates to c1880-95.

Four more King Street items decorated with Derbyshire scenes -

  • A small serpent handled vase of flared form on four gilt feet, painted with the titled scene "St Mary's Bridge, Derby" by W. E. Mosley.  To the reverse and also signed by Mosley is a group of flowers.  It is marked with the title in puce and the crossed swords mark in red and dates to c1930. (From the sale of the Dr John Freeman collection, image courtesy of Mellors & Kirk).

  • Shell shaped dish with painting of "High Tor, Matlock" by F. Schofield (signed).  It is marked to the reverse with the title, crossed swords mark and interlinked P's in puce c1934-35.  (From the sale of the Lever collection, courtesy of Bamfords Auctioneers & Valuers.)

  • Circular plate, painted and signed to the reverse by Harry Sampson Hancock of "Chatsworth House".  Crossed swords mark in puce c1915-34.  (From the sale of the Lever collection, courtesy of Bamfords Auctioneers & Valuers.)

  • Circular plate painted with "St Mary's by the Bridge, Derby" by Harry Sampson Hancock.  It is signed to the reverse in red, together with the title, and usual crossed swords mark also in red.  (From the sale of the Lever collection, courtesy of Bamfords Auctioneers & Valuers.)

The Osmaston Road Factory.

In 1878 the third factory to produce porcelain in Derby opened in Osmaston Road and very quickly followed the tradition of the earlier Nottingham Road factory and of its competitor at that time in King Street, of decorating much of its porcelain with scenes of Derby and Derbyshire.  Again, a very fine and talented group of decorators was assembled ensuring the quality of its porcelain was matched by the decoration upon it.

Derby Crown Period.
  • To the left, a Derby Crown plate of Harrow shape, decorated with a scene titled in red "View in Dovedale", and marked just below "Painted by E. Trowell".  The date code is for 1888 with a potting mark for 1885.  It is also impressed DERBY.  The Derby Crown mark is in red.

  • Derby Crown plate with a central view of Calke Abbey.  Marked to the reverse with a red Derby Crown mark, together with in red script the title "Calke Abbey" and below "Painted by E. Trowell".  The date cypher is a little smudged, but probably 1887.  (This plate is in the collection at Calke Abbey and is reproduced here by kind permission of The National Trust).

A duplicate plate from the Gladstone Service, 1883. 

 

This service was designed by Richard Lunn and painted by Count Holtzendorf and James Rouse, Senior.  It is marked to the reverse with the printed Derby Crown mark and inscription "DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED BY THE DERBY CROWN PORCELAIN CO LIMITED FOR PRESENTATION TO THE RT HONLE W E GLADSTONE MP BY THE LIBERAL WORKING MEN OF DERBY 1883" with PODR mark for 5th December 1883 in red, further inscribed by Rouse Flowers by J Rouse Snr/Derwent Edge Peak/Duplicate 1883.

 

One of a very small number of duplicate plates extra to the 26 piece service.  Count Holtzendorf was sent on several occasions into the Derbyshire countryside purposely to make sketches for use only on the Gladstone Service.  The oval miniature flower paintings were executed by James Rouse Senior.  The service was presented to Gladstone in the Library at Hawarden Castle by a delegation from Derby on Saturday 22nd December 1883.

 

Reference -
A Case of Fine China by Hugh Gibson pp63-68
DPIS Newsletter 58, Summer 2006, pp 26-29 by Ian C Harding.
Dr John Freeman Sale Catalogue, 1st March 2012, Lot 306 Mellors & Kirk

(Images and some text reproduced by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk)

Royal Crown Derby.

Both these plates are signed by Ellis Clark who was a decorator at Osmaston Road from about 1885-1901.  Landscapes were his main subject, though he also did "Chelsea Birds".  The far plate is of Royal shape with title "Dovedale - Derbyshire" with date cypher for 1891, the nearer plate tited "Chatsworth House, Derbyshire" with date cypher for 1890.  Both are signed E Clark.

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Royal Crown Derby Freedom Casket, presented to Alderman Arthur Sturgess OBE, JP, with views of Derby, signed by Donald Birbeck.  The flowers are by Albert Haddock.  It is marked in gold with the Royal Crown Derby mark and date cypher for 1954.

(Images courtesy of Royal Crown Derby Museum)

Responding to more modern trends and a need to increase its business in the collectors market, Royal Crown Derby began to produce special limited edition, decorative pieces of which this yellow ground ewer, designed by June Branscombe was one such example.  Maintaining the tradition of important Derbyshire scenes, this was decorated with Kedleston Hall and arms and had a printed mark and gilt title.  There were 125 of these produced c1972 and they were sold boxed, with a framed, numbered certificate.
(Image from Dr John Freeman sale, lot 272, courtesy of Mellors & Kirk)

The Society is very grateful to the members who have allowed us to use images of pieces from their collections, and to The Royal Crown Derby Museum, The National Trust at Calke Abbey, Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers and Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers for allowing us to use some of their images.  Without their cooperation we would not be able to produce these periodic exhibitions.

At the time this exhibition was first published we invited members who may have important pieces decorated with scenes of Derby and Derbyshire in their own collections, to submit digital images of them to the Society webmaster together with a full description.  These were added to a separate page - Derbyshire Landscapes - Members  Gallery.

The invitation to submit further images has now closed.

(This exhibition featured on our website during the second half of 2014.)

© Derby Porcelain International Society 2019.

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