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Bow Porcelain

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The Development of Early English Porcelain

Posted by Ross and Gael Ramsay on January 2, 2018 at 6:45 AM

Of late there has been a shift in the study of early English and American ceramics, in that science is being used in a more routine manner to answer questions about attribution, dating, raw materials, and kiln-firing techniques. One such example is the work of Jay, Cashion, and Blenkinship (2015) in regard to Lancaster delftware and the recognition of the use of Carrickfergus magnesian clay in that ceramic body. Another example is the work by Owen and Hanley (2017) in the recreation of Bartlam porcelain. Such approaches have not been common for


much of the 20th C despite very early contributions by Simeon Shaw, Sir Arthur Church, and Eccles and Rackham. This account argues that to understand the development of early English porcelains one has to give consideration to porcelain composition and when this is done the inescapable conclusion that one comes to is the recognition as to the indigenous genius of early English scientists and materials scientists. Unfortunately a constant feature through much investigation and research into English porcelains during the 20th C is reflected in a rephrasing of Pawson and Brooking (2002, p. 5),


It has not been seen of sufficient interest when a belief in the separation of form, decorative idioms, and the shade of grey observed in the glaze; from materials science, composition, and even contemporary documents renders the former central to the enquiry and the latter unproblematic.


Based on historical documents and porcelain composition we claim that the early English ceramicists hold a highly significant position in the development of porcelains in the Western world and that arguably John Dwight is the father of a high-fired, refractory ceramic porcelain body or more correctly, bodies. We also contend that Bow and its contribution has been greatly underestimated. Based on our analytical work, we argue that a wide range of English porcelain bodies were being trialled and produced in London by the early to mid 1740's and that concern had to have been Bow.

Categories: Important Discoveries

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