London Decorated Chinese Kangxi Teapot & Cover London Decorated Chinese "Limehouse Class" Teapot & Cover



Until the 1740's, England had no "porcelain" manufactories of its own,

relying primarily upon Chinese export porcelains,

shipped in large numbers into both London and Amsterdam.

Until c1660, the majority of the incoming Chinese porcelains were white, or blue and white.

Chinese internal strife (c1620-80) caused the European market to seek porcelains from Japan,

where the painters were also using colored enamels - as Kakeimon and Imari.

The Dutch, in particular, learned how to apply these colorful enamels,

and began decoration of both their own Delftwares and simpler Chinese porcelains

- enhancing both the beauty - and the value - and creating an individual "class" of porcelain.


This custom spread to London as early as the 1720s, probably peaking in the 1740-50s,

but declining in quality toward the century's end. 

Only in the last 30 years has real study and classification of London-decorated Chinese porcelains begun.

With this study has come the long-deserved recognition of some truly exceptional surviving works. 

Decoration often came from the ateliers of the finest painters, as London's James Giles,

 who decorated coveted porcelains for Chelsea, Bow, and Worcester, also exquisite glassware.



It should be noted :

The finer 18th century "European decoration" (often called "clobbering") differs from the 19th, 

when over-painting indiscriminately covered all available space, as was the19th century taste.

 Instead, the earlier decoration involved selectively enhancing spaces in colored enamels and gilt -

often with well painted detailed scenes and figures.

Palettes used were not just those of Imari (as in so much later clobbering),

but Kakiemon and a distinctive famille rose (pink enamels) and famille verte (green).

Bianco sopra bianco (white enamels) also played a very special role in London-decorated Chinese export.



Within this English class of painting is a group known as the "Limehouse class".

Limehouse was a short-lived early London porcelain factory (1745-48). 

Their painting combined not only both European and Chinese styles, but unlike any other English manufactories,

introduced European scene - presumably copied from Meissen. 

Bright red jackets were often featured :

"These patterns of buildings with figures of merchants were copied from Meissen originals. 

It is likely that the teawares of this type inspired the English decorators to create

the scarlet-coated gentleman patterns."



In Phillips Watney sale of September 1999, the above rare English Limehouse sauceboat is illustrated (Lot 130) :

"painted on one side with a castle by a river, a barrel in the foreground,

and a man in sixteenth century European costume to the left...".

The gentleman's jacket is scarlet -

that now a "reference" for the "Limehouse class" of London-painted Chinese porcelains.


 In the "lot notes", Watney suggests another interesting dimension to this type of decoration :

 the likelihood of the painting on white (English) Limehouse porcelain actually being executed in Holland,

and the Dutch painters then settling in London, where they continued to paint Chinese porcelains.


This same sauceboat is illustrated in European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain, Espir, p. 223,

with additional dating to this type of scene :

"This scene appears to derive from the Meissen harbour scenes of the 1720-30s that were developed 

on Chinese export wares in the1730-40s and had become stylized on England by 1746.



*  We are pleased to offer for sale *

 two exceptionally painted London-decorated Chinese export porcelain teapots :





Kangxi, 1715-20, painted in London c1720-30

with original underglaze blue decoration of a tall pine tree and flowering branches,

 later decorated in iron red, black and gilt :

flowering branches overlaid with an elaborate gilt panel outlining and heightening the flowers,

at the top a smiling sun to each side (indicative of London painting),

 sided by two standing Chinese figures, one on a low bridge, swans swimming beneath;

the reverse with a half-rolled iron red blind over the pine tree above two triangles -

one representing a further bridge with swans, the other a garden terrace;

the spout and handle painted with cloud scrolls;

the cover painted en suite, the interior faintly inscribed in gilt "Cheap";

the verso with a pseudo artemesia leaf mark in underglaze blue

Illustrated :

European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain, Helen Espir

English Ceramics Circle, Transaction , Vol. 19

The English Decoration of Oriental Porcelain, Errol Manners






"Limehouse Class"

Yongzheng / Qianlong, c1730-40, Painted in London c1746-50

The existing underglaze blue mountain riverscape later painted in bright enamels and gilt with

a merchant in a scarlet coat brandishing a sword,

and a barrel resting on green grass before tall signal towers (or sentry) and flowering trees;

the reverse with two red-coated gentlemen in a sampan among gilt rocks, before an island with docks(?),

a flowering tree, a gilt pagoda and a tower, all beneath purple clouds;

the cover decorated en suite; label verso for Helen Espir, no.663


 Ref. :

A  very similar teapot sold Bonhams New Bond, listed as :

"An important teapot and cover circa 1745-50 of Limehouse Class"

A similar teabowl and saucer is pictured European Decoration on Oriental Porcelain, Espir, p 224,

the saucer in the collection of David Battie




London Decorated Chinese Kangxi Teapot London Decorated Chinese Limehouse Class Teapot



Please click on the titles or images above for the fully illustrated pages.



Please email, or call, if you have any questions. 


Millicent Ford Creech


901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)



Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

Complimentary Gift Wrapping


mfcreech@bellsouth.net  or  mfordcreech@gmail.com



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London Decorated Chinese Export Porcelain of the 18th Century