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Image of Heart-Shaped Fable Dish

Worcester Porcelain Factory
English, born established 1751
Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale
Irish, 1734–1801

Heart-Shaped Fable Dish

about 1765

Object Type: Ceramic
Creation Place: Northern Europe, English, Worcestershire
1 3/4 in. x 11 in. x 8 5/8 in. (4.45 cm x 27.94 cm x 21.91 cm)
Medium and Support: Porcelain
Accession Number: 1994.0006

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Lucien Loeb

Currently On View

Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale (about 1734-1801) arrived at Worcester about 1765-1768 and remained until 1772. He is known for the quality and originality of his work, particularly his fable decoration, which was not generally used at Worcester until after his arrival, and his full landscape scenes. O’Neale was a fellow of the Society of Artists, and his work was exhibited with the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts from 1762 to 1766. After leaving Worcester, O’Neale worked briefly for William Duesbury and Josiah Wedgewood.

The use of fables as a decorative motif played a large role in 18th-century porcelain decoration as buyers appreciated the easily understood moral lessons. The scene decorating the interior cartouche of this dish is a possible adaptation of ‘The Lyon and other beasts,’ from Francis Barlow’s “Aesop’s Fables,” number XXII, published in 1687. The fable recounts the story of an alliance between a lion and other animals to hunt together and share the game. However, after the hunting trip, the lion wants to keep the meat for himself and reveals his view of the other animals as fair game. The moral of the story is to choose your friends and associates carefully.

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