Exotic Birds at Williamsburg

Exotic Birds at WilliamsburgReticulated creamware basket stand printed with bird pattern, Staffordshire or Liverpool, c. 1765. This piece and the matching strawberry or fruit basket are exhibited in the ceramics galleries at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg. It is displayed with fragments of a matching creamware basket excavated on the grounds of the Governor’s Palace at Williamsburg. The date of the pieces and correspondence to Palace inventory references suggest that the fragments are from an extensive dessert service owned by royal governor Botetourt. It is supposed he brought the service with him from England when he arrived in 1768.

This is an early example of British transfer printing on ceramics, possibly related to the six “Exotic Bird” variations printed by Sadler & Green for Wedgwood, which are included in the TCC Database of Patterns and Sources. Sadler & Green and Wedgewood were among the small number of printers and potters experimenting with on-graze transfer printing in the mid-18th century.