Parian figures to keep up with the Jones's

In the mid 19th century, the Minton and Copeland porcelain factories discovered a way to imitate marble, both claiming the credit! On 2nd March, Dreweatts is offering a small, local private collection of English Parian or Statuary Porcelain.

In the 1830s Art Unions sprang up in Britain. These were essentially a form of lottery where the prizes were works of contemporary art and were aimed at educating an often ignorant but aspiring middle class, hungry for culture.

It was these Unions, the London Union being the largest, which probably did most to spread the popularity of Parian. A domestic or foreign visitor to the many trade exhibitions in the mid 19th century and especially The Great Exhibition in Kensington of 1851 would have seen all the major Staffordshire manufacturers offering busts of the great and the good, as well as mildly salacious subjects from antiquity.

As Geoffrey Stafford Charles, Dreweatts’ Director of Ceramics and Glass, remarked, ‘These items should not be confused with today’s equivalents, such as the limited edition plate of a black Labrador, lovingly ‘hand printed’ or the figure of a girl in a ball-dress entitled ‘My first dance’. In the mid 19th century a collection of Parian, showed the Jones’s you were fashionable and had exquisite taste.’

Stafford Charles went on to say, ‘If you have a niche or a mantel piece crying out for a classical bust of say Apollo, then why not spend two or three hundred pounds on a Parian example, rather than several thousand on a marble version? Though mass produced, Parian are of a finer quality than anything one can find today in the back of the colour magazines of the Sunday papers.’

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here.

For further information on the sale, please call Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory Salerooms on 01635 553553 or email

For press information, please contact Vanessa Clewes-Salmon, email: or telephone: 020 8458 3288

Dreweatts - 01 February 2011