Charting the four eras of Chelsea porcelain

The Chelsea Factory was established between 1743 and 1745 by Nicholas Sprimont. He ran a successful and innovative company until 1769 when he sold to William Duesbury of the Derby Porcelain factory who maintained Chelsea until 1784, producing what is commonly referred to as Chelsea-Derby ware. In 1784, the Chelsea workshops were demolished with the majority of the moulds destroyed and a few removed to Derby along with some of the workers.

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 7:00 am
STANDALONE. A small 18th century Chelsea porcelain figures of gardeners on display at Christie's auctioneers in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 17, 2007. It is one of a set of six figures which are about three inches high and made around the 1760s, are expected to sell for £500-£1,200 each, on Noverber 15. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Chelsea Porcelain is divided into four periods defined by the marks used.

The first period; the triangle period (1745-49) saw pieces marked with an incised triangle. Wares from this period have a glassy white body due to a proportion of crushed lead glass in the soft paste that can appear to have ‘pinholes’ in it when held to the light. Designs tended to be based on silver work with particular Rococo influence.

By the raised anchor period (1749-52) marked with an applied anchor on a small oval medallion, there had been some improvement in the quality of the glaze with less translucency. Many designs had a Meissen influence and scenes from Aesop’s Fables were popular.

A small red or occasionally brown anchor defined the Red anchor period (1752-56) which saw fashions favour decorative tableware with designs such as fruit, animals and vegetables becoming popular.

Figures from this period are particularly notable; the best produced by Flemish modeller Josef Willems.

The Gold anchor period (1757-69) where the small anchor was now painted gold saw an increased use of gilding and coloured grounds, the return to Rococo designs and many more elaborate figures produced.