Pair of teabowls and saucers

ARTIST / MAKER: Davenport (manufacture)
DATE: ca.1815 (made)
PLACE: England (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Earthenware with transfer-printed cobalt blue enamels

Davenport was an English ceramic manufactory operating in Longport, Staffordshire between 1794 and 1887. The manufacture was established by the industrialist John Davenport, who produced decorative but affordable tablewares both for domestic and export markets. Davenport was one of the most important English ceramic manufactories of the first half of the 19th century, alongside Minton, Spode and Wedgwood. The manufactory even received the royal patent after producing a dessert service for William IV’s Coronation Banquet, which was well received. Unlike most ceramic manufactories however, Davenport left no archives and remained largely forgotten until the 1970s.

In the early decades of production, Davenport produced earthenware with blue transfer-printed blue decoration such as these tea bowls and saucers. These are rare examples of decoration inspired by engravings in Thomas Bankes’ A Modern, Authentic and Complete System of Universal Geography, first published around 1790. The publication was a celebration of British exploration in various nations and included accounts of James Cooke’s voyages. The transfer-printed scenes depict a figure wearing snow shoes walking along the edge of a frozen river, while in the background another figure can be seen in a dog-drawn sledge.