Ironbridge Shropshire

An Introduction to Coalport Porcelain

The story of Coalport China has strong paralels with the changes in English middle-class tates and fashions during the nineteenth century.

Porcelain manufacturing started at Coalport in 1796 under John Rose. By 1799 Rose felt confident enough to take over the Caughley porcelain factory just two miles away. By 1800 a competitor to Coalport established a factory just yards from John Rose's premises. This new partnership included John Rose's brother, Thomas.

The competition caused new shapes and patterns by be devised that were based on the latest tastes and fashions in Paris. The porcelain from both factories of the time is perhaps best remembered by their ranges of teawares.

John Rose would later buy Thomas' factory and close the Caughley works. Coalport designers embraced a new pseudo-Greek and Egyptian style that would acceptable in homes from Madrid to Moscow. From 1810 - 1815 Coalport starting using the deep, rich cobalt blues with gilted embellishments showcasing the panels of magnificent flower paintings.

As time moved on a softening of both style, shape and colour would occur. By the 1820s newer more subtle moulded paterns emerged as luxury wares for the desk top and dressng table became termed as 'Coalbrookdale' porcelians.

The rococo revival of the 1830s produced assymetrical shapes and moulded scrools, and a cross section of this ware is documented in a surviving travellers design book.

The mid-nineteenth century saw an era of great Exhibitions and grandise forms based on historical styles. Coalport had the technical ability to reproduce luscious white porcelain and rich pink and turquoise grounds of the 18th century Sevres. These were decorated with fabulous paintings of birds by John Randall an delicate paintings of flowers or fruit by William Cook. This beautiful porcelain would set tha standard for all Coalport wares through the second half of the 19th century.

The wares inspired by Persian and Japanese styles would continue and reached its zenith with production of 'jewelled' wares of astonishing technical excellence. The surfaces were encrusted with imitation gems and burnished gilding, more reflecting the styles of faberge than work created in the Severn Valley.

The final phase of Coalport production is best noted for a series of vases an cabinet wares which again used the deep cobalt blues with raised and burnished golden gild work. Inset was panels of landscape and fauna painted with watercolour delicacy by a dedicated group of porcelain artists working at Coalport. Manufacture was transfered to Staffordshire in 1926 but the former factory is open for visistors as the Coalport China Museum.

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