Friday, May 13, 2011

Saucer of the Week: Ode to a Classical Urn

This week's saucer is one of my favorites.  It is most likely English, I believe, but it could possibly be French.  I am almost certain that it is English, but I would welcome learning otherwise if you know so, Dear Reader.

The saucer is made of very white porcelain and measures 5 3/8 inches in diameter.  It is simply decorated with a classical urn done in grisaille and festooned with gilt garlands.  The urn is, in turn, surrounded by three plain gold bands.  It is unmarked.  I date it to 1800-1815.

I bought it half a dozen years or so ago from an antiques dealer in Hudson, New York.  I can't remember which one anymore, but I suspect it was from one of the dealers that is no longer in business there.  I don't think I paid very much money for it, at least as these things go.

We keep this saucer for much of the year on one of the side tables in our drawing room at Darlington House, where it complements the room's gray walls, white trim, and gilt-framed pictures and looking glasses.  I showed an image of it in situ, in the original post that introduced this series, holding a flute of champagne.

So, why is it that this saucer is one of my favorites?  As many of my readers know, I have a weakness for classically inspired objects, and I find the severity and elegance of this saucer's spare decoration to be most pleasing.  There is nothing extraneous about its carefully chosen and edited design.  Each element, be it urn, garland, or gold band, is integral to the whole; the absence of even one of these elements would render a less successful composition.  I ask you, Dear Reader, to imagine how the saucer would look with one less band, or if the garlands had not been applied—it would not look as exquisite as it does, now would it?

Photograph by Boy Fenwick


  1. Dear Mr. Darling,

    Indeed, you are correct. If one of the elements of this beautiful saucer were to be missing, it would not have the impact it does at present. I too would have a hard time identifying its origins. English or French? I can see why you would think it to be French - the white porcelain and gilt bands. The urn, however, that is very English to my untrained eye. It is indeed a beauty and one that I would gladly welcome into my home too (I believe I've commented in the past about my weakness for urns).

  2. That is your most stunning saucer of the week to date. I love the classical urn motif with the elegant, simple gold lines. Every line and garnish adds to it and nothing detracts. Just what One needs to start One's Saturday morning with.

  3. I simply does not get better. You have exquisite taste!''

    And there is fun and whimsy in your house! A greater compliment I could not give! Lovely!


  4. The garland around the urn is a perfect example of gilding enhancing the design, not just adding glitz. It is a little hard to see in the photo, but the gilt bands enhance the natural curves and profiles in the saucer, so their impact and purpose seen in person must be even greater.

  5. Hello Reggie:
    As you remark,it is the clean, classical simplicity of this saucer which gives it such appeal. And we can imagine very easily how it must complement the colour of the drawing room walls. A lovely early piece.

  6. Hello,

    I love the cassical urn motif and the gold lines.
    Thank you to share this whit us.

    Greetings from Belgium

  7. Lovely saucer. I love the clean lines of Neo-Classical design.
    If I had Darlington House, and your porceline collection, I would host a Regency Style Formal dinner party and ask the guests to come in formal wear reminiscent of that period.
    I know it's weird, but I just love the clothes, art and furniture of that Period.

  8. I discovered you through a comment on my post, so happy to find such a refined blog.


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