Letter: A genius for combining unpleasant colours

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The Independent Online
Sir: It seems extraordinary that Martin Wyld (letter, 15 April) should use the notoriously unreliable art of English enamel painting in the 18th century as evidence that, as he puts it:

Titian's 'startling' blue sky is no less brilliant in the reliable enamel reproduction of the painting by Bone, made almost 200 years ago . . .

Between the years 1770 and 1781, Henry Bone was employed by Richard Champion at the Bristol and Plymouth Porcelain Factory. He is referred to in the seminal work by Emil Hannover, Pottery and Porcelain for Collectors, as 'their best- known decorator'. Hannover goes on to talk of the quality of the decoration executed at that time:

It may be he (Bone) who should be held responsible for a particularly crude combination of a bright blue ground enclosing gold marble panels.

Warren E. Cox, the famous American expert, speaking of the same period at the Bristol and Plymouth factory, says:

Fair technical achievement was ruined by the English genius for the combination of unpleasant colors found nowhere else in the world. This has been explained on the grounds that the climate was so dense and foggy that raw color was the only kind that will carry, but this cannot be so, for nowhere else in the world do we find such strong color as about (sic) the equator. No, it cannot be the climate. It is just a penchant for unqualified colors in a sometimes fresh and childlike effect but at other times, the most unpleasant results.

He goes on to cite a particularly virulent example of a Bristol and Plymouth vase of the period which is exhibited in the British Museum.

Yours faithfully,