Floral studies created as a ‘basket of flowers’ were a particular specialty of the Connoisseur of Malvern studio. They were similar to their other flower studies in that they often focused on only one or two types of blooms, although there was at least one that was a delightful mix of seasonal garden delights. All of their baskets were limited editions, and some were created to commemorate specific events.
Nature’s Bounty was likely the first flower basket issued by the studio and was sold only at Brielle Galleries in New Jersey. It was introduced in 1980 as an edition of only 15, and measures 9” high x 12” wide. Designed by Diane Lewis, the featured blooms are ‘Hyperion’ Asiatic lilies and ‘Honor’ roses.
The July Morning basket commemorated the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Fifty of these were made. It is 8″ high and about 10″ wide and deep. I couldn’t resist adding a detail image of the butterfly which is the aptly-named Peacock, Aglais io.
This less-than-optimal photo of the backstamp on the underside of the basket reads: Created on the Occasion of the Marriage of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer 29th July 1981. The crest is the Prince of Wales feathers.
1985 saw the introduction of the Dawn Haze basket in an edition of 25. The basket is 9″ high and 11″ wide. The roses represented are ‘Ice Ginger’; see the Roses post for Connoisseur’s limited-edition sculpture of that same variety.
Mellow Morn is the name of this charming flower basket study in pink. It was a limited edition of 25 in 1986 and is 9″ high. The basket mold is the same as was used for Dawn Haze the previous year.
This lovely 8.5″ high basket is Midsummer Dream, an edition of 50 and also from 1986.
The introduction year of the following baskets is unknown, other than that they are all from the 1980s.
This camellia basket study is Blair House, an edition of 25. The actual hybrid depicted is Camellia ‘Ann Blair Brown’. The butterfly is known as the Camberwell Beauty in the UK and as the Mourning Cloak in America. Ann Blair Brown was Executive Director of the American Camellia Society as well as the editor of several editions of the American Camellia Yearbook during the 1980s.
This basket of camellias is appropriately named Victorian Splendour. Camellias became wildly popular during that era after being introduced from the Orient; no self-respecting young lady would want to attend a ball without sporting at least one! In the Victorian ‘Language of Flowers’ a pink camellia meant “I long for you”. This sculpture is 8″ high, 13″ wide, and was an edition of 25.
Rich, intense Fall colors are seen in the Autumn Cornucopia basket. The dimensions and edition details of this piece are unknown at present.
I was sent this photo of a sadly, and badly, damaged Springtime Harvest basket by the art gallery who has been tasked with restoring it. They were hoping that I might have a photo of a mint condition one that would guide their work; unfortunately I do not, but if anyone does happen to have such a photo, please contact me via the About the Chatsworth Lady page. Many of the individual floral pieces had become detached, even when undamaged, and so it will be a challenge to determine what might originally have gone where. Because I had no record of this piece on hand, I asked for a photo as a placeholder and to show that this basket was once among Connoisseur’s offerings. Many thanks to the Avery Gallery of Marietta, GA, for sharing it.
Not exactly a flower basket, but a basket nonetheless! The Fruit Basket was designed by Diane Lewis as an edition of 25. It measures 8.5” high x 10” wide. The basket mold is the same that was used for July Morning.
At least one – and probably more – of this basket’s contents also had a non-limited-edition counterpart, as shown by this Apple. Here the fruit is accompanied by its appropriate flower, e.g., an apple blossom. It is three inches high overall, and 3.5” wide including the flower and leaf. Logic suggests that there may also have been an orange with orange blossom, and/or a bunch of grapes with a leaf and/or vine. Because there was only this one auction-lot photo of the basket, it’s uncertain what type of fruit is partially hidden near the center; if it’s a peach, then a separate peach/peach blossom is another possibility.
Connoisseur undoubtedly made additional baskets for which I currently do not have photos or information, which I would love to be able to add to this post. There is a contact form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page, if anyone has a photo of any basket not shown above. Many thanks!