Plate walls add charm and visual interest to any home, but choosing which plates to use is often the hardest part. Antiques expert Jessica Lev, shares a few of the most popular collections to consider and a glimpse behind the history of each one.
A hallmark of the grandmillennial trend is the reemergence of plates on walls. In any number, they can provide the perfect finishing touch to elevated interiors.
The tradition goes back generations when whole rooms were dedicated to the display of porcelain. What plates should you hang on your wall? Well, really, any, but I recommend staying within a single collection for a cohesive look. Here are some of my favorites.
CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN
The Chinese invented porcelain in the 1300’s, and for centuries, no one could emulate the bright, fine, delicate look of authentic Chinese porcelain. As a result, it became the gold standard for buyers at the time and remains so for many collectors today. Throughout most of the 18 th century, most “exports” were classic blue and white. In the late 18th /early 19th centuries, however, brightly colored ‘famille rose’ (the most famous of which is the ‘rose medallion’ pattern) and ‘famille verte’ porcelain ware came into vogue. The range of colors, patterns and styles across the centuries is immense and collections are everywhere today, within the homes of the British Royal Family to those designed by Mark D. Sikes or Bunny Williams.
Transferware is a classic and highly recognizable art form developed in England in the second half of the 18th century, and widely adopted in the 19th. It describes the transfer of a print or pattern via a copper plate and paper directly onto pottery. Before the transferware technique was invented, “china” had to be hand-painted, and was therefore expensive. The less-expensive transferware process made decorative wares more attainable.
Stylistically, transferware has a unique look: designs printed on a white background with a single-color pattern. It is easily identifiable by its printed nature. Look for intricate patterns with little to no variation in color and tone.
Among the most coveted kinds of pottery is Victorian Majolica. Known for its bright colors and fanciful textures and designs, these lead-paint based pieces were made predominantly in England, followed by the rest of Europe and the United States the second half of the 19th century. For fun and whimsical additions to interiors, James Farmer often turns to these fabulous pieces.
Highly collected for their shape, oyster plates can look charming together. The 19th century saw a rise in oyster consumption, and china dinnerware sets began to include plates made to display the delicacy. Many well-known manufacturers, including Minton, Wedgewood and Haviland of Limoges, added them to their rotation.
The most neutral choice on the list, English creamware exudes understated elegance. Also created in 18th and 19th century England, creamware is known for its cream color and intricate details, including pierced or reticulated edges and applied decoration.
A few tips as you embark on designing a plate wall of your own.
1) Use your best plates on the wall if they are at eye level. Chips and imperfections stand out in a wall display, less so on a bookshelf.
2) Consider a central or anchoring platter or plate for your display.
3) Mix in brackets or 3-dimensional objects to create additional interest.
4) Have fun with it! A plate wall is a chance to put your spin on a timeless tradition.
More modern than a tradition antique store or dealer, Jessica Lev understands how to mix antiques with contemporary decor for timeless style. She specializes in custom furniture and decorative arts sourcing, finding the perfect piece for the space.