SOYER.   ALEXIS BENOIT     Exceptionally rare.
A FINELY DECORATED TRICORN PRATTWARE BOTTLE FOR 'SOYER'S RELISH'
Limited number ordered from F.& R. Pratt & Co. by Messrs Crosse and Blackwell and to Alexis Soyer's specification
n/d circa the 1850's. 195mm tall x 110mm wide. Decorated on three sides. Side 1: The famous portrait of Soyer in his trademark cocked beret, painted by his equally famous wife Emma Soyer; nee Jones. Side 2: The Poultry-woman. Side 3: The Fish-market. Beautifully painted and decorated with raised ceramic piping in green, maroon and gold.
- This bottle originally contained "Soyer's Sultana Sauce" and marketed by Messrs. Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell as "Soyer's Relish", The whole design is definitely in keeping with the style of Soyer's 'a la zoug-zoug' predilection. (to understand what this means, see item #10991 above to read George Augustus Sala's very interesting description of the highly eccentric Alexis Soyer's design bias ). Soyer manufactured his first piquant sauce; "The Lady and Gentleman's Sauce", in 1848, priced 2s 6d. It was extremely popular and he intended to keep the recipe to himself but he was very busy with other pursuits. He agreed to a meeting with Crosse & Blackwell. Finding the terms offered for the recipe to be very advantageous, he sold it to them. Then in August 22nd, 1850 [ref: Lon. Metropolitan Archives #MA/4467/A01/003. Declaration of Goods Quality] he brought out "Soyer's Relish". From its inception, it was well patronized and beyond expectations. Because of the popularity of the Relish, Crosse and Blackwell commissioned a limited amount of this very special bottle from F. & R. Pratt & Co. Whilst Felix Pratt was the commercial driving force behind the business, the artist was Jesse Austin who joined Pratt in the early-1840's. He was an accomplished water-colour artist and engraver and in nearly 40 years produced over 550 poly chrome prints used to decorate the now well-known pot lids for many types of potted food-stuffs. Pratt’s first under-glaze, polychrome pot lid was made in 1847 and was a scene ‘Grace before Meals’. Austin’s subjects included royalty, famous people, city scenes. (The portrait of Soyer here is a copy of the famous image painted by his well-known artist wife, Emma Soyer nee; Jones). This portrayal of the life and times of Victorian England is one of the reasons for the lid’s popularity today. Austin also made miniature water-colour copies of famous paintings and these too appear on Prattware pot lids. Although the pot lids have become well known, the engravings were also used on the containers themselves, on plates and on other domestic earthenware manufactured by the business and it is this good-quality domestic pottery that is termed ‘Prattware’. So good were the engravings that the pot lids and Prattware rapidly became a collectible and the first exhibition was apparently held in 1897 only three years after Felix Pratt’s death. Cauldon Potteries Ltd acquired Pratt & Co in 1933 and continued to issue reproduction pot lids under the F. & R. Pratt name using the original Jesse Austin engravings and the practice was continued up to the 1960s by the various owners of the Pratt name. It is not known how many of these exotic and unusual tricorn 'Soyers' Relish' bottles were produced and sold, but one that came up for auction on July 2004, sold for four times the projected price. A very collectable object even by collectors not interested in Alexis Soyer.

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Information

Ephemera category
ref number: 11296