History, Research, Photos, Talks and Downloads

Bow Porcelain

Click here to edit subtitle


The Ceramic Busts of George II

Posted by Ross and Gael Ramsay on October 6, 2013 at 12:40 AM

From the time of their manufacture these splendid porcelain busts of King George II have been a source of continual controversy. One of the most significant achievements of early English porcelain, they have been the subject of discussions as to the ceramic recipe of the paste and glaze; the motivation behind their manufacture; the age of the King as depicted and also the time, origin and place of production.


In order to decipher the original intention behind their manufacture it has been necessary to correct both the discrepancies that exist within primary sources and the inconsistencies and prejudices that have been perpetrated through the literature since William Burt’s first mention of the busts in 1816. What we have discerned from this information is the presence of substantial bias within the research. As a result of this confusion, over time the busts have been attributed to almost every early English porcelain factory regardless of whether it produced a hard paste, glassy, steatitic or phosphatic body.


    Initially these busts were thought to be hard paste and made at Plymouth, then following Rackham they, for many years, were assigned to Chelsea. With a publication by Watney (1968) they then were attributed to Chaffers Liverpool and there they remained till Daniels (2007) questioned this attribution. Subsequently these busts have been reassigned yet again, this time to Vauxhall, yet the reasons for Vauxhall are even more threadbare than those published to support a Liverpool connection.


    Until recently the most scholarly contribution to these busts was by Dudley Delevingne in 1963. More recently Daniels has extended our understanding of these George II busts and associated brackets by arguing that one cannot hope to date and attribute this ceramic group unless one understands the symbolism to be found associated with both. Although of late, a host of writers have argued for a Vauxhall attribution, based presumably on the notion that the bracket refers to the Seven Year's War, these contributors have pointedly refused to recognise that the iconography of the busts refers to Dettingen (1743) and that of the associated brackets reflects both the preservation of the Protestant succession and the trampling underfoot of rebellion as argued by Daniels (2007). That rebellion of course was the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-1746 with its associated Roman Catholic overtones.


    A new contribution to this ceramic debate by Pat Daniels and Ross and Gael Ramsay was published in early October, 2013. This monograph runs to some 85 pages, 70+ figures, and 6 tables of chemical analyses. The inescapable conclusion that these three authors have reached is that there is an urgent need for a major reconsideration of the previous understanding of the early development of the English porcelain industry.  Please go to 'https://www.bowporcelain.net/download" target="_blank">Download' for a copy of this research monograph.  See also https://www.bowporcelain.net/research-topics-16-20" target="_blank">Research Topic 16.




Categories: Controversial