Report on ‘Chinamania’ at the Art Workers’ Guild
The Art Workers’ Guild, Gradige Room (first floor), 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT
After the successful ‘Chinamania’ event in February, our May ‘Chinamania’ was also held at the Art Workers’ Guild, on 31st May 2018.
This was a fantastic opportunity to hear recent research, ‘works-in-progress’ and examine objects relating to French porcelain and its wider remit and featured objects and talks by Adrian Sassoon, John Whitehead, Dr Mia Jackson, Nette Megans and Dr Diana Davis.
February Chinamania Report:
Our first ‘Chinamania’ event at the Art Workers’ Guild was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with five speakers, who throughout the evening took us on a journey from the earliest beginnings of Vincennes, all the way to the exhibitions of Sèvres porcelain in the 1850s in England. After a glass of wine the group gathered together in the wonderful surroundings of the Art Workers’ Guild. Organiser Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth explained that during the nineteenth century, ceramics collectors were often referred to as ‘chinamaniacs’ or as suffering from a ‘mania’ and passion for porcelain- a feeling we all know too well! The evening started with a wonderful object-based talk from our President Dame Rosalind Savill who had brought along a splendid 1754 Vincennes bowl from her own collection. This wonderful piece is beautifully painted by Armand, with a date letter ‘A’ and a bleu celeste sable gold ground. Next, one of our newest members Desmond King delighted us all with his wonderful collection of early French porcelain cutlery handles. Desmond mentioned the differences in English blades and French handles, and passed around some beautiful St Cloud examples. Next, our former Chairman Errol Manners showed us his original copy of L’Art de Porcelaine by Nicholas-Christiern de Thy Comte de Milly from 1771 which had some wonderful illustrations of a German porcelain factory and its workers. Errol explained that many of these images also ended up in Diderot’s Encyclopédie published in 1772. After this, our current Chairman Oliver Fairclough delighted us all with a wonderful presentation on an 1828 Sèvres porcelain hard paste plate from the service des arts industrielswhich showed a detailed visual depiction of the process of lithography. Finally, our last speaker Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth discussed the exhibition of eighteenth-century Sèvres porcelain in Britain, focusing on the 1852 Marlborough House Exhibition which included approximately 44 pieces loaned by Queen Victoria from the Royal Collections. We concluded the evening with a top-up of wine and another chance to view and handle the pieces we had heard so much about. Special thanks must be given to the committee, to all of the speakers and to everyone who attended and who gave generous donations towards the refreshments and room hire. We look forward to the next ‘Chinamania’ event with great enthusiasm!