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Doctor Syntax, Part IV

by Norman Wolfe
Excerpted from the TCC Bulletin

This time I have combined two rather rare little plates into one article. Both of these source prints come from "The Third Tour of Doctor Syntax, In Search of a Wife" by Rowlandson. My copy is a first edition published in 1821.

We can definitely place the production of this series by Ralph & James Clews between the publication of this third volume in 1821 and their first bankruptcy in 1827. At that time their entire stock of wares was confiscated and sold to pay off debts. It was at this point that the Clews Brothers began to produce the lighter colored subjects that became so popular in the 1830s. The Picturesque Views and Zoological Gardens series are examples of these later wares.

This first view shows the good Doctor "Presenting a Floral Offering". He is wasting no time trying to find another wife. The plate is 5 1/2" D, a previously unrecorded size for this view.  They usually run 6' to 6 3/4". Notice that the stringing of pearls which usually frames the central view is missing here. This was probably snipped from the transfer paper to make the view fit on a smaller plate than it was designed for. It is of interest that this view is marked "The Garden Trio" instead of "Presenting a Floral Offering" on the back in underglaze blue.  This was common, as most of the people working in the Potteries were illiterate. I am sure the lighting was not the best either.

Here is the source print for "The Garden Trio." It looks like the young black boy wants to make it a quartet! Frankly I think the good Doctor is hunting for a wife again.

This plate is also 5 1/2" D and is a previously unrecorded size for this view. Normally this view is seen on a 6"D plate. Once again the stringing of pearls is missing from the inside of the border to accommodate this view on a smaller size plate. Marked "The Garden Trio" plus the usual Clews impressed circular mark. Next time, another view....or maybe two!

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