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Bow Porcelain

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Bow Porcelain I

Polychrome bowl

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Polychrome bowl
Polychrome bowl decorated after the Chinese in famille rose colours, Bow Al-Mg-P porcelain, c. 1742-1744, 12.1 cm diameter. Private collection. The body of this bowl has a high-fired appearance as demonstrated by the very high content of aluminium (33 wt% Al2O3), is well-potted having a tight-fitting, blemish-free glaze distinctive of Bow, and is highly translucent with a greenish hue. The distinct amounts of P2O5 and MgO are assumed to reflect the use of both bone ash and steatite/soapstone by the Bow proprietors. The glaze is a characteristic Bow glaze (Ramsay et al., 2011b) with high PbO, K2O greater than or equal to CaO and low Al2O3 and MgO. The decoration on this bowl belongs to a stock pattern produced at Bow over a long period of time, but is rendered very individually by a painter, whose hand has only been found on one or two other typically Bow examples, although visual examination indicates the paste composition found in these other bowls differs from this example. Whilst an inordinate degree of discussion is found in the literature regarding the visual appearance of Bow glazes, which might appear to be less than diagnostic, little attention has been afforded a range of Bow body types (Al-Mg-S, Mg-Pb, Mg-P-Pb, Al-P, Al-Mg-P, Si-Al-Ca, and Si-Al) many of which are visually distinctive and highly informative regarding the early development of Bow from the 1730's. The visual appearance and chemical composition of this inferred high-fired body contained in this bowl resonates with that of an Al-Mg-S Bow tea canister decorated with the Island House pattern (Ramsay and Ramsay, 2005; 2007a; 2007b) as discussed elsewhere in this section. Furthermore, the use of both inferred soapstone and bone ash in the ceramic body of this bowl demonstrates technology linkages to the Willett/Edkins/John Brittain George II waster bust, through to some of the Lund's Bristol output, and thence to early Worcester. The attribution of a Mg-P body in wares decorated with apparent Limehouse stylistic idioms is currently under investigation and there is a body of opinion that such porcelains, as detailed by us in our Limehouse monograph (Table 3) may not in fact be Limehouse. Here one should keep an eye out for on-going research by Dr Bill Jay. Photograph by Cilla Daniels.
Posted on March 15, 2014 Slideshow

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