2651 NEDI Hannams Chamberlain Regent Cups 1

Shakespearean scenes with maidens from the pair of ‘Regent China’ Chamberlain Worcester cabinet cups in the French Empire style. Estimate £50-75, sold for £3800 at Hannam’s of Selborne.

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2651 NEDI Hannams Chamberlain Regent Cups 2

A pair of Regency Chamberlain Worcester  ‘Regent China’ cabinet cups in the French Empire style featuring maidens within landscapes against a rich lavender ground. Estimate £50-75, sold for £3800 at Hannam’s of Selborne.

Featuring high scroll gilded handles, they were beautifully painted with Shakespearean style maidens within landscapes, against a rich lavender ground jewelled with enamelled dots, each raised on three gilded lion’s paw feet.

Estimated at just £50-75, these hammered down for £3800 at Hannam’s (23% buyer’s premium) four-day sale of Fine Antiques & Oriental Works of Art Auction from June 18-21 in Selborne.

They appeared in a section titled Part three of an important lifetime collection of Worcester, Barr Worcester & Flight Barr & Barr, including other selected factories. Over 100 lots of fine porcelain were entered and had been obviously collected by someone with a discerning eye.

Regent China

This pair of cabinet cups could not fail to attract attention, being striking in design, unflawed and in the illustrious ‘Regent China’ - a material claimed by Chamberlain’s to have been perfected after the Prince Regent’s visit in 1807, when the factory was awarded a Royal Warrant. The dessert service ordered by the prince was made in a special type of hard porcelain especially created for this important service and known as ‘Regent Body’.

From 1811 the name ‘Regent China’ appeared on pieces made from this expensive porcelain, with the name being retained by Chamberlain’s for use on richer items. 

In addition, Robert Chamberlain (1736-98) had originally opened a shop in Worcester, with a large showroom opening in 63 Piccadilly London in 1813. This prestigious address was incorporated into most marks to the underside, followed by New Bond Street in 1816.

These two factors are a useful aid when dating Chamberlain Worcester porcelain. As such, given the bases of these cups are inscribed in puce script ‘Regent China’ with excerpts of poetry but no London address, one can surmise the date of manufacture at c.1812.

2651 NEDI Hannams Chamberlain Regent Cups 3

Detail of the signed bases from the pair of ‘Regent China’ Chamberlain Worcester cabinet cups in the French Empire style. Estimate £50-75, sold for £3800 at Hannam’s of Selborne.

Customers at the showroom would choose the decoration for individual 'cabinet' pieces. Views of country houses and figure subjects taken from prints of well-known paintings were very fashionable. The factory built up a large library of source material for the artists to work from. Scenes from Shakespeare’s plays were copied from engravings published by John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall. Decoration with copies of oil paintings gave porcelain the status of minor works of art.

It is likely that the pair of cabinet cups offered were painted by the celebrated porcelain painter Thomas Baxter Jnr (1782-1821), who has been rated ‘as the most accomplished artist who painted Worcester porcelain in the first half of the 18th century’. However, another candidate could be Humphrey Chamberlain Jnr (1791-1824), the son of the founder Robert Chamberlain.

2651 NEDI Hannams Tea Bowl With Bird 1

A rare 18th century Worcester tea bowl and saucer painted with a single yellow bird perched on a branch from the James Giles workshop. Estimate £50-75, sold for £1500 at Hannam’s of Selborne.

James Giles workshop

Another notable lot which sold well was a rare Worcester tea bowl and saucer, painted with a single yellow bird perched on a naturalistic branch and dated c.1770-72. This also had an estimate at £50-75 and hammered down for £1500.

The key to attributing this bowl and saucer was the ‘Zorensky Collection No. 351’ sticker attached to the base. With this information it was evident that this was a recorded piece, originally sold at Bonhams in 2004 in The Zorensky Collection of Worcester Porcelain Part 1 for a premium-inclusive £5019, then selling at Bonhams again in 2007 for £2160, entering the Brigadier JM Neilson collection.

It is also listed in the book, by Simon Spero and John Sandon, ‘Worcester Porcelain 1751-1790 The Zorensky Collection’, under entry 441, and features as a full colour plate. It is apparent that this is a very rare piece, from the workshop of the highly collectable James Giles (1718-80).