Height 61.00 cm. Width 46.00 cm.
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A fine regency lacquer papier mache tray by Clay of King street Covent Garden with orientalist decoration and original handles in the form of serpents.
Provenance: Papier-mâché, literally ‘chewed paper’, is an ancient technique thought to have been invented by the Chinese. It became popular in Britain during the 18th century when the term was first coined in English (whereas in French the term was not recognized until the 20th century). At first it was used in pulp form for architectural mouldings and frames. As technology progressed a technique of moulding laminated sheets of paper was developed. The durable waterproof nature of this material meant it could be used for anything from trays, boxes and screens to chairs, pianos and even carriages.
This tray was made by the Birmingham and London manufacturers Clay & Company (1770-1860). In 1772 Henry Clay patented a durable form of papier-mâché known as a ‘heat-resisting paperware’. It could be carved, cut and lacquered like wood or metal, with the added advantage that it was lightweight and did not warp. Such a stable material was ideal as a support for japanned decoration as used on this tray.
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