BUTTERFLIES AS A THEME FOR HAND-PAINTING ON CHINA

By: John Hogan

The butterfly has played a great role for centuries as a theme for hand-painting on bone china, porcelain and pottery.

TUSCAN, ENGLISH BONE CHINA TEA & TOAST SET, C. 1947

TUSCAN, ENGLISH TEA & TOAST SET, C. 1947

TUSCAN TEA & TOAST SET UNDER PLATE

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Such subject matter, originating in the Orient, the love of insects especially the butterfly in combination with florals, has been a tradition that eventually captivated the British and other European china factories as a subject for hand-painting.  In Europe during the Art Nouveau Period the rage for hand painted porcelains depicting insects reached an all-time high. The butterfly was the motif of choice because of its variants of color and delicacy of form. The butterfly is considered to be one of Mother Nature's most wonderful creations to represent beauty in its most delicate form. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.

The origin of the butterfly dates back some 65 million years ago. In Chinese culture two butterflies flying together are a symbol of love. In some old cultures butterflies also symbolize rebirth into a new life after being inside a cocoon for a period of time. Some people say that when a butterfly lands on you it means good luck. Whatever the symbolism the butterfly amidst florals and roses has been the inspiration for artists many years.

Bone china and porcelains with hand-painted butterflies has been a favorite for wedding gifts for many years. Such a fine example is this English Tea & Toast Set:


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