A pair of mid 18th century Bbue and white candlesticks painted with flowers and songbirds.These enamel candlesticks have typical Battersea ropetwist shafts rising from an oval base, and separate small bobeche to hold the candle. Battersea painted enamelware is considered the finest of its kind. It is composed of soft white enamel covering a copper ground.
H 9.75 in. x W 5.5 in. x D 4 in.
Perhaps there is nothing in all of English decorative arts that has continued to charm and fascinate the collector as much as English enamels on copper. Battersea, Bilston and other South Staffordshire enamels were often made in the shape of little boxes for the taking of snuff or tiny ones for the applying of beauty-spots (known as “patches” two hundred years ago), and were often given as tokens of affection or esteem, little love-gifts or “Trifles.” Other household objects made in decorative enamel were rarer: candlesticks( for example the Blue and White candlesticks found here are quite rare), table-snuff boxes, baskets, bowls, plates and beakers, inkstands, tea caddies, sugar canisters, mustard pots, salt cellars, cloak or screw pegs, wine labels and funnels, writing caskets, chatelaines and other useful things.
While the taste for decorative painted enamels came to England from the French influence on fashion, these industrious Georgian artists and craftsmen took this Continental idea and greatly embellished the art to an even finer degree and immediately began a cottage industry that fed itself and flourished in many parts of England, including Battersea, Birmingham, Bilston, South Staffordshire and other areas of the Midlands. Many French enamelers and artists had fled to England to escape the religious persecution in France.
The earliest enamels in England were painted by hand. However, the most important improvement that the English contributed to the art of enameling on copper was the process of transfer-printing on enamel. This was really an English development which probably started in Birmingham and was introduced to London society by the production at the York House factory in the Battersea section of London in the early 1750’s, although the actual origins of transfer-printing are subject to considerable dispute among scholars. This London based manufactory was undoubtedly well-connected politically, since one of the founding partners at York House was Stephen Theodore Janssen, a well known public figure and the Lord Mayor of London at the time. The York House factory in London was only in business from 1753 to 1756. There is probably nothing in all of the English Decorative Arts that has had such a short corporate life-span and yet continues to have a lasting imprint on the arts as the work that was done at Battersea in London. In 1755, Horace Walpole, the celebrated English author (1717-1797), wrote an acquaintance, “I shall send you a trifling snuff-box, only for a sample of the new manufacture at Battersea, which is done with copper plates.”
Almost no antique English enamel was marked by the maker and signed examples are extremely rare. The last known 19th century enamelers in England stopped working in the early 1840’s.
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