Next year is the 200th anniversary of perhaps our best-loved china pattern – ‘Blue Italian’ by Spode, a range of blue-and-white earthenware that has graced dressers across Britain and America since 1816. The original transfer-print design was a blend of imagery: a romantic pastoral landscape based on a 1638 painting by the French artist Claude Lorrain, bordered by flowers and leaves copied from a Chinese porcelain plate of 1735. ‘It’s a lovely Italian scene with oriental touches that’s proved as timeless as “Willow”,’ says specialist dealer Sue Norman, who hunts out early pieces for collectors. The famous ‘Willow’, too, was an early Spode pattern, dating to around 1790 and copied by many other potteries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Churchill China of Stoke-on-Trent still produces its 1818 version, ‘Blue Willow’, today.
The main features of any ‘Willow’ pattern are a willow tree, a bridge with people crossing it, and a traditional Chinese teahouse. ‘The first transferwares of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were all based on blue-and-white Chinese porcelain designs and oriental scenes,’ … Read the rest