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Vault

Parian–oia

26 September 2014 - 08 November 2014

Parian–oia is a selection of bisque porcelain from a private collection. Developed in England in the 1840s, parian ware imitates marble and was used in the production of mainly busts, figurines and occasionally dishes and small vases. Parian was named after Paros, a Greek island renowned for its fine-textured white marble. Because it was prepared in a liquid form and cast in a mould items were able to be mass produced. Its invention is usually attributed to the Spode factory of Copeland & Garrett although some attribute its development to Minton’s. Some manufacturers called their Parian wares ‘statuary porcelain’.

The status of the new statuary porcelain was significantly boosted when Copeland & Garrett were commissioned, by the Art Union of London, to produce sculpture multiples for annual distribution in their effort to improve public taste. Commissions followed from the Crystal Palace Art Union. Parian was at its height, in terms of quantity and quality, from about 1850 through to about 1880. Production continued into the twentieth century but the last quarter of the nineteenth century saw a decline in its status from a high quality product associated with the art market to ware often associated with the souvenir market.

For many years, the owner of this collection was able to travel annually to the United Kingdom and pursue her Parian collecting interest as examples came up infrequently in New Zealand. Over half of the works in the collection has been acquired in either Australia or the United Kingdom. With regular travel, and a husband who worked in the antiques trade, the collector was able to meet, and make significant friendships, with networks of English collectors and dealers who acted as her ‘eyes and ears’ and helped her locate prospective acquisitions. A particular English friend was the late Robert Copeland of the Copeland/Spode family. He was the author of Parian: Copeland’s Statuary Porcelain. The international significance of this collection is evidenced by the fact that the cover of his important reference book features only works from this Auckland collection.


Objectspace’s Vault Programme features distinctive works from private collections. Objectspace is keen to work with private collectors to enable them to share their collections, and enthusiasms, on a short term basis. Objectspace acknowledges the generosity of the Parian Ware collector and the assistance of Cordy’s.