Author Archives: HHCG Admin

“Kakiemon Porcelain: “From Pleasure Quarters to Palaces”

On Thursday 9 September, we were delighted to welcome expert  Alexandra Aguilar via our Zoom meeting. Alexandra Aguilar is an auctioneer and Asian Art specialist with particular expertise in Japanese works of art. Originally from Dijon, Alexandra studied in France and England, before completing her Master’s degree on Scottish Collections of Japanese Art at the University of Edinburgh. Alexandra now regularly appears on The Antiques Roadshow in her capacity as Asian Art specialist.

Japan has been producing porcelain with overglaze enamels for nearly 400 years, but the early history of the technique is still shrouded in mystery. This talk considered the background to its inception and  concentrated on the particular case of Kakiemon figures. It illustrated the richness and complexity of the aesthetic language behind these three-dimensional models of ‘beauties’ (bijin), gods, animals and other mythical creatures. The huge enthusiasm for Kakiemon figures in 17th century Europe was also discussed, and Alexandra explored how the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) monopolised the trade for Japanese polychrome porcelains and how it rapidly dwindled, after only a few decades.

As the Head of the Japanese Art Department at Woolley & Wallis Salerooms, Alexandra has had a number of significant finds, including a 17th century Kakiemon figure of a bijin and an unusual model of a Kakiemon minogame; examples of namban artworks including a rare gold lacquer table and a box and cover with cabriole legs; and several fully articulated models of animals (jizai okimono) including snakes, a dragon fish and a large model of a hawk. Alexandra is now concentrating her research on depictions of Europeans in 17th century Japanese art, with a particular emphasis on lacquer work.


Horace Elliott (1851-1938) – London’s Forgotten Potter

On 14th May, HHCG was treated to a most interesting talk by Jonathan Gray, entitled “Horace Elliott” London/Welsh Art Potter (1851-1938) . Jonathan is an Hon Research Fellow at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and his work on Horace Elliott is part of an agreed research plan – the Welsh link being Horace’s engagement with various potterys at Ewenny, near Bridgend.

Jonathan discussed how Horace Elliott was, in his day, a well-known London Arts and Crafts potter, with relationships at various potteries in England, Scotland, Wales and Germany during his 54 year ceramics career (1880-1934) – the best known of these being Brannam, Denby and Ewenny. 

Selling first through someone else’s shop near the British Museum, Elliott established his first retail shop on what is now Queensway in Bayswater, and had other premises in St. James’s, Knightsbridge and Chelsea before moving to Streatham in 1904/05, where he would spend the next 30 years before he retired aged 83. In the early 1890’s, he was standing exhibitions with the likes of Doulton, Royal Worcester, Minton, Elton and others, so was for part of this period part of the “premier league” of British ceramic producers.

Jonathan showed examples of Elliott’s work and designs at these various centres and outlined Elliott’s approach to selling wares, which included bazaars. Elliott’s moulds are now in the National Museum of Wales.

Jonathan is aiming to publish a book on Horace in Spring 2022. He is meetings secretary for the English Ceramic Circle. He has published widely, including The Cambrian Company, Swansea Pottery in London 1806-1808 (2012) and edited the two volumes which accompanied the Welsh Ceramics in Context Seminars run in 200/2003.