Sample Plate Plate, ca. 1875
Designers and manufacturers have used samples for more than 300 years. While some ceramic samples boast well-crafted design schemes that were beautiful in themselves, others showcase colors, motifs, and imagery more haphazardly, as on the front and back of this French porcelain plate. The designs—including five royal portrait busts, one of a Lebanese princess—reference the Islamic and Turkish style and stylized motifs popular in France in the second half of the nineteenth century. The images are applied via chromolithography, which produces more standardized results than hand-painting, and enameling, one of three ways to adhere color to ceramics. The process first requires the glaze to be fired onto the surface; then metal-oxide pigments (copper for green, iron for brown, manganese for purple, etc.) are transferred from a thin paper onto the glazed surface, and a low-temperature firing turns the pale pigments into brilliant colors. Since each coloring process yields different results, and the porcelain quality was key to its value, the sample ware was especially important in ceramics manufacturing. It might have been used to show potential customers the pottery’s skills and abilities, or used within the factory as a reference, ensuring all products met a quality standard.
It is credited
Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund.
Its dimensions are
H x diam.: 6.1 x 44.5 cm (2 3/8 x 17 1/2 in.)
Cite this object as
Sample Plate Plate, ca. 1875; France; hard paste porcelain, vitreous enamel, gold; H x diam.: 6.1 x 44.5 cm (2 3/8 x 17 1/2 in.); Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund; 1990-152-1