From the plain and practical to the elaborate and ornate, plates are central to the meal times we enjoy every day and on special occasions, especially Christmas. After last year I’m sure we are all looking forward to sitting down with our loved ones and having a festive meal - I know I certainly am!
Join us this advent season to celebrate our 12 Plates of Christmas, inspired by ‘Gallery 6: Feasting’ at Aberdeen Art Gallery, and learn about some of the incredible tableware from our collection. You can find out more about all the plates we will be sharing over the run up to Christmas using our Collections search facility on our website.
Day 1: Sèvres Plate
Let’s begin our series with an eye-catching porcelain plate that you may have spotted in vinyl form at Aberdeen Art Gallery on the wall of Gallery 6: Feasting. This plate has been in our collection for over 100 years, but it actually dates back to 1770. The image in the centre of the plate depicts a man playing pipes to a woman sitting outside. This image is framed by a pink border that has three reserves, each painted with a bird and a gilt floral border.
Day 2: Dark Brown Stoneware Side Plates (6)
Jumping forward 200 years, today’s plate is from the 1970s but only joined our collection in 2003. This plate is part of the Arabesque homeware range which was designed by iconic tableware designer Gill Pemberton and was in production 1964 to 1984. As the title suggests, the plate was made of stoneware. The pattern was originally hand painted onto the dish, but this technique was later replaced by glaze transfers which created a more uniform pattern. Denby Pottery
Day 3: Cockerel Saucer
To coincide with the exhibition ‘Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous’ which continues at Aberdeen Art Gallery until 20th March 2022 - we have curated a selection of objects from our collection which are all linked by the colour pink. This unusual saucer has been featured alongside these objects which reflect Dame Zandra’s own personal style and her signature neon pink hair.
The fluted porcelain saucer is hand-painted with a cockerel (one of the calendrical animals in the Chinese Zodiac) along with a crab and flowers including peonies. The back of the plate is arguably just as interesting as the front - the maker has sculpted a floral bouquet which adds another dimension to the piece, raising the question of whether this piece was made for decorative or practical purposes. How do you think this piece would function as a saucer?
Before joining our collection in 1941, the saucer was owned by James Cromar Watt who was an Aberdonian architect, enamellist and jeweller who collected an array of decorative art from overseas. You can find out more about James Cromar Watt at Aberdeen Art Gallery, in Gallery 1: Collecting Art.
Day 4: Seashore Plate
Aberdeen has a long and often dramatic relationship with the sea and this next plate really encapsulates this. Although originally from England, this plate reminds us of the Aberdonian shoreline and the creatures and objects you can find along the coast. In the centre of the plate is a highly-detailed image that depicts various seashells. The gilded pattern around the edge resembles seaweed and coral structures. You can see some incredible artifacts and learn more about the Aberdeen’s maritime history at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
Day 5: Pair of Blue & White Chinese Plates
The next plate is actually a pair of porcelain plates that date back to the Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng period (1722-1735).
This style of blue and white porcelain is perhaps the best-known and most popular. The technique became prominent during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) in China and was achieved by painting cobalt oxide directly onto the surface of the unglazed porcelain. These plates became fashionable in Europe by the late 17th century and were collected by royalty and nobility for display.
Day 6: Eternal Beau Dinner Plate
You may recognise the next plate as being part of the Eternal Beau dinner set, designed by Sarina Mascheroni and manufactured by Johnson Brothers in 1990. We are lucky enough to have a set of six of these plates as well as other Eternal Beau items in our collection which were kindly donated by Mr & Mrs Ward who received these items as a wedding gift from their friends and family in September 1990.
This plate is a personal favourite of mine as it’s part of the dinner set that my Nana has used for nearly 3 decades. I can’t imagine a family dinner without it!
Follow us on social media @AbdnArtMuseums and let us know if you used or still use any of the plates mentioned in our series. Share your favourite plates with us using the hashtag #12PlatesofChristmas
Merry Christmas and stay safe!