25 April 2017

Parian: 'The Bride' and 'The Mother'

Parian bust of 'The Bride' 1861
In the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge there is this wonderful photograph of a Copeland parian bust, 'The Bride', from their collection.

It is a stunning piece of ceramic manufacture in a body called parian. The fabric folds seem almost real. In about 1845, Copeland's parian, then a new ceramic body, was described by sculptor John Gibson RA (1790-1866) as 'Decidedly the best material next to Marble'.

'The Bride' is also illustrated in 'Parian: Copeland's Statuary Porcelain' by Robert Copeland. There are several excellent books on parian ware but this has to be the go-to reference book about parian figures from the Spode factory. In it Robert Copeland explains that 'the original marble sculpture of this subject [The Bride] was executed by Raffaele Monti for the Duke of Devonshire and was known as the 'Statue Voilee'. Monti's figure also seems to be known by many other names on the web...
'Statue Voilee' by Raffaele Monti now at Chatsworth House 
On October 11th 1860 Alderman W. T. Copeland, then owner of the Spode company, paid Monti £10 for 'a model of a small veiled head representing The Bride, and the copyright of it'.

In 1871 another parian bust was made called 'The Mother'. This was also from an original marble sculpture by Raffaele Monti (1818–1881). It is interesting to see that negotiation was made directly with the well-known and revered sculptors for various parian figures from W. T. Copeland. Papers relating to the arrangements are in the Spode archive.

'The Mother' was sold as a companion to 'The Bride' - not a matching pair but two associated subjects usually referred to as 'Companions'.
Parian bust of 'The Mother' c1871 in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Parian bust of 'The Mother' from Copeland's book
Cover to Robert Copeland's excellent book on parian
Frontispiece of my copy of the book with Copeland's lovely dedication