Dimensions: 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm) diameter
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
The Bow Porcelain Factory was the site of a technical breakthrough for English ceramics, positioning the factory as a major rival of Chelsea. Bow most likely was the first English manufacturer to include large quantities of bone ash in its porcelain formula. Small quantities of bone ash had long been used to promote fusion during the firing process, but in 1749 Thomas Frye of Bow discovered that larger amounts produced heavier porcelain more suitable for everyday use. This new formula also was much more stable during firing, allowing Bow to increase production and cater to the mass market. The practice of adding substantial amounts of bone ash was quickly adopted by other factories, and England today is still renowned for its bone china.
Bow produced large amounts of tablewares, many of which were greatly influenced by Asian exports wares. The Europeans still longed for the oriental style, with little distinction made between Chinese and Japanese motifs. This plate combines Japanese asymmetrical design with Chinese imagery distilled by eighteenth-century western stereotypes. As a result, the Chinese boy riding the water buffalo resembles more of a caricature than an actual human form, lacking the details utilized by artists when depicting more familiar European subjects.