View of Richard Arkwright’s Mill, Cromford – Derby Porcelain saucer

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has bought a Derby Porcelain cup and saucer dating from 1795. The saucer was the main attraction as it shows a named view of Sir Richard Arkwright’s Mill in Cromford.

The painting in a naïve style appears to be a simplified copy of the Zachariah Boreman watercolour of ‘The Lower Mill’ painted eight years earlier in 1787. The A frame in the foreground is intriguing and after various discussions it is thought to be a frame for bleaching yarn in the sun. Other thoughts were that it might have been linked to a tannery (although no tanneries are thought to have been in the area) or it could have been a tenter frame (although the size is all wrong for this).

You can find out more about the Lower Mill on the DVMWHS website .

The cup shows a view near Little Eaton. We haven’t done much research into this piece but 1795 was the date that Benjamin Outram opened the Little Eaton tramway linking the village with Derby. This might have sparked an interest in the village or it could of course just be coincidental.

Zachariah Boreman plates donated to Derby Museum and Art Gallery

In July 2011 we kindly had two Derby porcelain plates donated to the Enlightenment! project. Both plates have a Derbyshire scene and are named ‘Lower Brook Bredsall [sic], Derbyshire’ and ‘View of Worksworth [sic] Moor, Derbyshire’. The plates were painted by Zachariah Boreman (1738 – 1810)  in around 1790.

Derby Museum and Art Gallery have the original Zachariah Boreman watercolour designs for these plates, which are on loan from Derbyshire Archaeological Society.

According to Samuel Keys, an apprentice and then gilder at Derby porcelain from c.1785 – 1830, Zachariah Boreman ‘excelled in landscape painting, and was on intimate terms with Mr Wright, the celebrated artist’.

Earlier this year we bought a plate also dating from the 1790s that was painted by Zachariah Boreman, take a look here.

Derby Porcelain & John Boydell

A Derby porcelain lozenge shaped dessert dish, c.1790

This dish has a white ground with a cobalt blue border and is gilded with eight small reserves containing a rose. The oval central reserve is bordered by a fine blue overgilded line and contains a landscape showing a river scene with a bridge, windmill, castle, house and three figures.

The roses on the border were probably painted by Derby porcelain artist William Billingsley (1758–1828) and the central reserve painted by Zachariah Boreman (1736 – 1810). The dish dates from the Duesbury period, circa 1790. It is marked with the numeral 1 for the gilder Thomas Soar.



A Derby porcelain oval shaped dessert dish, c.1820

This dish has a cobalt blue ground, a gilded arrowhead border and a gadrooned rim.  The large central reserve contains a townscape of Derby viewed from the weir on the River Derwent.  It depicts St. Marys Church and the Shot Tower and was possibly painted by Daniel Lucas.

It dates from the Bloor period, circa 1820 and is marked ‘Bloor Derby’ enclosing crown in red printed circular mark.




Portrait of John Boydell (1720-1804)

Mezzotint published 1772                                 
Valentine Green after Josiah Boydell

John Boydell was one of the richest and most powerful print publishers of the late 18th century. He started his career as an engraver and eventually saved enough money to establish his own print publishing business.  He acquired the license to reproduce paintings by Thomas Smith of Derby.  His print shop in Londonwas well patronised by travellers and people wanting to look fashionable and knowledgeable.

Valentine Green is considered to be one of the greatest mezzotint engravers of the 18th century.  Green produced affordable mezzotints after the paintings of the most leading and contemporary artists of his day, including Joseph Wright.


What is mezzotint?

The mezzotint is a form of engraving, or intaglio printmaking. Unlike linear engraving methods, in which the desired image is incised and ‘scooped’ out of a metal plate creating a sharply defined line, mezzotint involves the roughening of a metal surface (the resulting texture is called the ‘burr’), which enables the achievement of smooth gradations of tone. The result is an impression that appears velvety and painterly. Due to the finely worked surface of mezzotint plates, the lines of the engraving were easily worn away by the production of repeat impressions, so the first and darkest impressions were considered the most valuable and of the highest quality.