Willow Candles

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Willow pattern dinner candles, pack of 10 , each candle is 8" tall , 8 hour burn time. 22mm approx base.

The story of the willow pattern

The exact moment of the pattern's invention is not certain. During the 1780s various engravers including Thomas Lucas and Thomas Minton were producing chinoiserie landscape scenes based on Chinese ceramic originals for the Caughley 'Salopian China Manufactory' (near Broseley, Shropshire), then under the direction of Thomas Turner.[1] These included scenes with willows, boats, pavilions and birds which were later incorporated into the Willow pattern. However the Caughley factory did not produce the English Willow pattern in its completed form.[2]

Thomas Lucas and his printer James Richards left Caughley in c.1783 to work for Josiah Spode,[3] who produced many early Chinese-inspired transferwares during the 1780s and 1790s. Thomas Minton left Caughley in 1785 and set up on his own account in c.1793 in Stoke-on-Trent producing earthenwares: he is thought to have engraved versions of willow designs for Spode and for various other factories.[4] It was probably for Spode that the English Willow pattern was created and first produced perhaps around 1790, because it incorporates particular, distinctive features of earlier Chinese willow scenes which were already known and imitated at the Spode factory.[5]

The Willow pattern is commonly presented in a circular or ovate frame. The waterside landscape represents a garden in the lower right side, in which a large two-storey pavilion stands. Approached by steps, the lower storey has three large pillars with arched windows or openings between. The roof and gable, shown in three-quarter perspective, is surmounted by a smaller room similarly roofed, and there are curling finials at the gables and eaves. It is surrounded by bushes and trees with varied fruit and foliage, including a large tree rising behind with clusters of oranges. Another pavilion roof appears among the trees to the right and a smaller pavilion stands to the left projecting from the waterside bank. A path through the garden leads to the front of the scene and is crossed by a fence of diapered panels set zig-zag fashion across the foreground.

On its left side the garden forms an irregular and indented bank into the water, from the foreground of which a large branching willow tree with four clusters of three leafy fronds leans out. From this point a bridge, usually of three arches, crosses left to an island or bank with a house having a tall arched doorway, and a small tree behind. There are usually three figures on the bridge going away from the garden. Above and beyond this the water (shown white) forms an open expanse, with a boat at the centre left containing two little house-like cabins, propelled by a figure with a punt-pole aforeships. In the upper left quarter is a distant island or promontory with pavilions and trees, including a fir. Above the scene in the centre is a pair of flying swallows, one turning and one descending, their heads and beaks turned closely towards one another in amorous conjunction.

It is the inclusion of the bridge, the garden fence, the central pair of birds, and the particular details of the pavilions and surrounding trees, in this arrangement, which together characterize the English Willow pattern in its standard form.

The late Mr Robert Copeland, the ceramics historian, in his whimsy used to refer to the figures on the bridge as "the Socialists", because they were "going to the left"