‘Porcelain Plus…’, Part 2: Porcelain + Crystal

The dramatic combination of art porcelain and rock crystal was something that only one studio – Albany Fine China – chose to utilize in any quantity. All of those designs also incorporated bronze as well. Several of the crystal-enhanced sculptures were an ‘upgraded’ version of the same piece’s standard porcelain-and-bronze version, the most interesting being the ‘underwater’ theme pieces. In these, the difference was in the bottom section. The ‘Conservation Series’ pieces had a crystal base, versus the ‘Undersea Fantasy Series’ that had porcelain in that area instead.

All of the Albany pieces shown below were available in 1991. A future Lost Porcelain Studios post will profile this company in detail.

The girl-and-dolphin design was called Freedom in the crystal (Conservation Series) version. It is about 11.5” tall and was a limited edition of unknown size.

The non-crystal-base version (Undersea Fantasy) was called Dolphin Girl; this was an edition of 250.

Because I don’t know what the title of the Conservation Series piece was, I’m going to call it “Seal Girl on Crystal”; the porcelain base version was called Seal Girl and was, like Dolphin Girl, an edition of 250.

It is possible that the Water Nymph and Sprite was an edition of 500. It is 15” high. The ‘sprite’ is the male figure; the bubbles are also rock crystal.

Turning to the bird and animal pieces, the Kittiwake soaring above a rock crystal wave was modelled by David Burnham Smith. It is 22” high on its wood plinth and was an edition of 500.

The Arctic Tern was also modelled by him, was the same edition size and is almost the same height.

Adding crystal to the base of any sculpture is a great way to give the impression of water. The Swallow is 14” high and wide.

A similar base style was used for the Kingfisher, which is approximately the same height. Edition sizes are not known.

The Kingfisher Family, on the other hand, is more complex and is shown near a crystal waterfall. This was an edition of 100 pieces.

This unknown songbird is shown near a small waterfall. It is 13” high and about six inches wide. I feel as if I should know what bird this is, but am drawing a blank; any suggestions? Many thanks!

Albany also created an ‘Arctic Series’ of four miniature porcelain-and-bronze pieces mounted to crystal pieces of “ice.” They are all about three to four inches high.
This photo does an excellent job of showing the detail in the Puffin.
The four pieces in the series were the Puffin, Penguin, Polar Bear, and Seal.

Connoisseur of Malvern

I have only found one Connoisseur of Malvern piece that utilized crystal, and the only reason I became aware of it is because part of the crystal component was shown in the studio’s official photo of the piece, called Tai Pan.

Unfortunately, the studio’s photo only shows part of the sculpture’s base, which was a combination of rock crystal – the upper part of which is visible in the photo – and a walnut lower section. The only clue is in the photo caption; it describes the piece as

Height 23”, width 17”, depth 12” on crystal and walnut base

The piece was sculpted by Richard Sefton and was released by Connoisseur in 1984 as an edition of ten. I have seen only two verified examples of that edition come up for sale (#7 and #10) and both of them were missing the crystal-and-walnut base. This suggests that the top of the crystal was shaped specifically to accommodate the bottom of the porcelain, something Connoisseur regularly did with their wood-only bases. A third, un-numbered example also appeared for sale but did not have the crystal base either. I’d love to finally see a photo of the entire thing!

I have never seen a Boehm or Cybis piece that incorporated a crystal element, so it may well be that the single Connoisseur piece, plus the ‘baker’s dozen’ designs from Albany Fine China, are the only examples of “porcelain plus crystal.”

Other posts in the Porcelain Plus series:

Porcelain + Bronze (how it’s done)
Porcelain + Bronze, gallery
Porcelain + Precious Metals or Gems

 

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