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Hancock, John, 1804–1839

Drawings and notebooks on porcelain painting.

England, circa 1821-1836.
Physical Description:
6 v. : ill. ; 24 cm. + 27 small sheets of drawings
Rare Books and Manuscripts
NK4399.D4 H36 1821
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Archives & Manuscripts
Three generations of artists named John Hancock worked as porcelain painters at the Derby Porcelain Manufactory in Derby, England, in the early 19th century. The first (1757-1847) specialized in gilding, and helped develop a less costly gilding recipe of gold and mercury ground in turpentine. His son, John Hancock the elder (1777-1840), painted birds and flowers at Derby from 1820, before moving on to Edward's Porcelain Factory at Burton-on-Trent in 1839. John Hancock junior (1804-1839), perhaps the most likely creator of the present collection, is recorded as a painter of flowers, fruit, birds, figures, and armorials. He worked at Derby from 1823 to 1836. Cf. Gilhespy, F. Brayshaw. Derby porcelain. New York: Archer House, 1961 (pp. 98-99).
Small collection of manuscript drawings and notebooks on porcelain painting, circa 1821-1836, by John Hancock, of Derby. Three generations of John Hancocks worked in the porcelain trade at Derby during this period; the present sketchbooks and notebooks may be the work of any of the three. One of the notebooks of paint recipes is signed "John Hancock, Derby, 1821". The latest date recorded, in the title to a poem, is 1835. Papers have assorted watermarks from 1814 to 1836.
Two of the notebooks are purely textual and concern technical aspects of porcelain painting. The first of these, 24 p., (signed "John Hancock, Derby, 1821") begins with a list of the 21 known metals, from "platina" and gold to molybdenite and tungstenite. The next page lists the nine "simple earths", from lime to Augustine. The rest of the volume consists of recipes and instructions on topics such as enamel colors; tracing black and shining black; ceramic fluxes; colors for oil painting; and "The laying on of dead colouring". The second notebook, 16 p., begins with 6 pages on the composition of various paint colors. Remaining topics include "Caustic varnish, how to use"; "Varnish for transferring"; and "Dr. Lucas's shadows for landscapes".
The four remaining notebooks are wholly illustrated. The drawings are mostly in graphite, with a smaller portion in pen and brown ink. The subjects are predominately floral. There are some drawings of single flowers, including tulips or anemones, but most of the work consists of flower arrangements, including many in baskets, or bands of floral designs. A small number of the drawings are verbally coded for colors (red, rose, yellow, blue, etc.). The largest of the notebooks also contains a single drawing of a rural cottage, within a circular frame, and a rather simple drawing of birds. All drawings are unsigned and undated.
Completing the collection is a set of drawings on 27 small loose leaves of paper of varying size and quality. As in the notebooks, the subjects are mostly floral and drawn in graphite. The designs here, however, are more distinctly patterned in a manner suitable for application on porcelain. There are also more drawings of birds and a set of 9 pen and ink drawings of Asian figures. These include a drawing of a vaguely Near Eastern caravan, with 6 figures in local dress, and a camel; a drawing of another group of riders, featuring an elephant (with rider), presumably set in India; and a handful of drawings of figures in apparently East Asian dress. With the loose drawings is a single sheet of verse, "On the closing of the year, 1835".
Subject Terms:
Ceramic industries -- Great Britain -- Derby -- 19th century.
China painting -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Derby porcelain -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Flowers in art -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Gilding -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Hancock, John, 1757-1847.
Hancock, John, 1777-1840.
Hancock, John, 1804-1839.
Paint mixing -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Porcelain -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Varnish and varnishing -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Workshop recipes -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
Graphite drawings.
Ink drawings.
IIIF Manifest:

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