China’s Colourful Porcelain

A Chinese Yongzheng period (1722-1735) famille rose export porcelain tea service, finely enamelled with panels of a lady and boy seated in an interior

The reign of the Kangxi Emperor saw a renewal in the manufacture and decoration of porcelain with a huge shift from the five colour schemes of earlier wares to more colourful enamels and new designs.

The emperor Kangxi’s reign (1661-1722) was the longest in Chinese history. He re-established the imperial porcelain factory at Jingdezhen. Foreign trade with Britain and Europe reached new heights.

Three dimensional porcelain objects were transformed with narrative compositions of exceptional quality and complexity which reveal themselves as the piece is turned. The tradition of the gradual unwinding of the hand scroll was transposed onto porcelain where the stories were depicted in vibrant colourful enamels or underglaze blue.

Famille verte is identified by its vivid green overglaze enamels often combined with other polychrome enamels.

The repaired Kangxi period famille verte rouleau vase was sold at Toovey’s for £13,000 and is a typical example. The body is finely painted with a continuous narrative scene of figures in and outside a pavilion complex beside a river, rocks and trees.

A Chinese Kangxi period (1661-1722) famille verte porcelain rouleau vase, the body finely painted with a continuous narrative scene

It was during the Kangxi period that figures became central to the decoration of porcelain marking a significant aesthetic change. The narrative compositions are often hierarchical leading the viewer’s eyes to the central characters. But this artistry and attention to detail informs every aspect of the decorative scheme. Even the minor figures and details are beautifully depicted.

Eggshell porcelain is an extraordinarily thin pure-white Chinese porcelain of very fine quality. Eggshell porcelain called t’o-t’ai in Chinese, meaning bodiless, was first made in the early Ming Dynasty, probably during the reign of the Yongle Emperor (1403-1424).

The later Chinese eggshell porcelain famille rose tea service dates from the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (1722-1735) and realised £18,000 at Toovey’s. Each piece is finely enamelled with panels depicting a lady and boy seated in an interior with a female attendant and furniture, reserved against a blue cell diaper ground incorporating butterflies and flowers.

Chinese famille rose porcelain is characterised by the decorative use of pink overglaze enamels. It would reach its heights in the 18th century and was predominately made at Jingdezhen remaining popular into the 19th century.

China’s colourful porcelain delighted British and European connoisseurs in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today this porcelain is still celebrated by international collectors from China and across the world, and prices remain strong.

Remembrance and Reconciliation

Watercolour and gouache of the Cenotaph by Ann Allsop dated 1943

The Jewish artist and refugee, Hans Feibusch fled persecution in Nazi Germany and found a place of refuge in England. Against the shadow of our nation’s shared and shocking experience of war across two generations he wrote in 1944 “The men who come home from the war, and all the rest of us, have seen too much horror and evil; when we close our eyes terrible sights haunt us; the world is seething with bestiality; and it is all man’s doing. Only the most profound, tragic, moving and sublime vision can redeem us. The voice of the Church should be heard loud over the thunderstorm; and the artist should be her mouth piece as of old.”

Feibusch and many other artists working in Britain during this period were seeking to give voice to hope and reconciliation

Sometimes world events can seem overwhelming and filled with evil. It can be difficult to see how we can effect any change and we can feel defeated. And yet it is vital that we strive to work for the common good in love and service to others where we stand. The more of us who set ourselves to this task, wherever we draw our inspiration from, the more we are united like the joining of dots in a dot-to-dot picture of unimaginable scale and we push evil back.

Families, communities and nations are bound together by their common stories both of joys and sorrows. We are a processional nation and one of the central markers of our year is Remembrance.

Standard bearers, Des Knight and Richard Shenton at St Mary’s, Storrington

God willing we will gather peacefully and with reverence at the Cenotaph in London and across the country to once again reflect upon the costs of defending righteousness, freedom and liberty. Giving thanks for our allies we will pray for reconciliation and peace in our time.

In churches across Britain, Europe and America the common story which unites us will be expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving.

These familiar bidding words will be heard:

“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

I hope that each of us will be able to find time in this Remembrance weekend to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for their courage and sacrifice.

Early Motoring Celebrated by The Tim Harding Collection

Jill Scott’s no.84 Riley at Brooklands in 1930

I am excited that Toovey’s are offering the second and final part of The Tim Harding Collection of Motoring Photographs at auction on Wednesday 15th November 2023.

The collection was amassed over a lifetime of collecting by the late Tim Harding – a motoring historian who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of early vehicle marques.

The collection comprises photographs in all formats from full plate to ‘box brownie’. There are over 20,000 images recording the very earliest days of motoring to the early post-war era. Most are loose but some are framed and mounted, and there are also ‘family albums’ compiled in period.

A number were taken at Brooklands, the country’s first purpose-built race track. It was constructed on the 330 estate of Hugh and Ethel Locke King at Weybridge. Work began on the famous Brooklands race track with its high speed banking in 1906. It opened on June 17th 1907.

The ‘Double Twelve’ race came about because 24 hour racing was prohibited due to noise restrictions at Brooklands. As a result the event was divided into two daylight sessions and the cars were locked up overnight.

During the summer of 1930 the Double Twelve Race at Brooklands was won by Barnato and Clement in a 6 1/2 litre Bentley with Davis and Dunfee taking second in a similar car. 3rd place went to C. R. Whitcroft and H. C. Hamilton in a privately entered Brooklands Riley. They covered 1,629.08 miles at an average speed of 69.96mph to win their class. The no.84 Riley illustrated in the photograph was driven by Mrs E. M. Scott and the man who would become her second husband, Ernest Mortimer Thomas. They finished 6th. Jill Scott, as she was known, was popular in racing circles and drove at Brooklands between 1928 and 1932. She was the first woman to complete a lap of Brooklands at an average of 120mph.

An Atalanta crossing the finishing line at the Lewes Speed Trials, Sussex

Brooklands was the only race track in the country and with the renewed interest in motor racing after the First World War local speed events were organised by small clubs. Amongst these was The Lewes Speed Trials. Just ten years after its first trials in 1924 it had grown into an important event attracting many of the top drivers of the period including Malcolm Campbell, Archie Frazer-Nash and Dick Seaman. The Atalanta crossing the finish line at Lewes evokes the heyday of this remarkable event.

The Tim Harding Collection auction catalogue will be online at from Saturday 5th November 2023.