We are pleased to offer this stunning set of 12 Vintage Osborne Art Studio Scarlet and Gold Porcelain Service Plates, in excellent condition. Each of these gorgeous Osborne Art Studio service plates measure 10-3/4" in diameter, and sit on a 6-1/2" base. True to the reputation of the Osborne Art Studio, these vintage service plates are a virtual feast of gilding and porcelain artwork. Against a cream background, these richly decorated plates all feature a 1/4" gold laurel leaf border at the outer edge, and a 1" wide gold acid-etched rose and daisy border starting at the verge. These two elaborately gilded bands sandwich a beautiful 1-3/8" scarlet band which is overlaid with a baroque gilt stencil design. One more thin gold band creates a circle at the center of the plate approximately 4-1/4" in diameter, with a round stenciled scene in the center of the plates, done in the style of Watteau or Fragonard. Please examine our photographs carefully - we know you will agree that the artwork on these plates is truly opulent! It was the practice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for service plates to be set at each place on the table - along with candlesticks, silver, crystal and flowers - to produce an elegant presentation upon the arrival of dinner guests (please see our photographs for sample place settings). When it was time to serve the food, the servants would typically remove the service plate at the same time that they began serving food on plates that - while still elegant - were much more utilitarian.
The Osborne Art Studio backstamp on this set of 12 vintage porcelain service plates is a plain, gold overglaze stamp which we have seen on other, highly gilded and ornate service plate sets that were probably custom orders. Establishing an age for these vintage Osborne Art Studio plates is a tad bit difficult. This business ran from 1910 to 1972, which is a rather long span, but during this period there was no consistent use of recognizable back stamps. In fact, the Osborne Art Studio often used gilt foil stickers that would come off when washed! We suspect - and this is just a guess, but hopefully an informed one - that these vintage Osborne Art Studio porcelain service plates were produced sometime between 1914 to 1925. Here is our reasoning: Osborne Olsen typically liked to use Rosenthal, or other western European blanks for his decorating efforts. The plates produced by European companies tended to be lighter and thinner, whereas American-made products were often heavier in weight. European blanks were also not easily obtained during World Wars I and II, and during those times Osborne increased his use of American-made blanks. The service plates in this Osborne Art Studio set are indeed heavier, and thus we suspect that they are of American manufacture. The style of these service plates is more consistent with the period between 1915 to 1925, and we believe that this is when this Osborne Art Studio porcelain set was made. In addition, each of these vintage porcelain plates has 3-pronged marks on the bottom, which undoubtedly were made from a turn of the century decorating wheel (please view our photographs). An item produced later in the century would have been decorated on a more modern wheel that would not have left these tell-tale marks.
Our plates are in excellent condition, with only the slightest signs of wear. They have not been damaged by stacking -- you will find the verge bands clean and uninterrupted - and the gilding on the exterior rims is undamaged. Please examine our photographs carefully, as they are as good an indication of condition as our description. Whether you want to set your table in high style this holiday season, or line the back of your curio cabinet with sheer gorgeousness, these plates are what you need!
BRIEF HISTORY: Osborne Theomun Olsen was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 9, 1883 to Anna Maria Jensen (1854-1896) and Peder Matthias Olsen (1849-1896), who had emigrated to this country from Farsund, Norway. A talented artist from a very early age, Osborne became a member of the Chicago Art Institute in 1911, at the age of 28. When Osborne was only 13 years of age, he and his siblings survived a horrific period in which three family deaths occurred. First, in 1895, Osborne's father - Peder, or Peter - was assaulted and was bedridden for almost a year from his injuries. Peder died of hypothermia on August 11, 1896 during the 1896 heat wave. Tragically, Osborne's mother died on August 22, 1896, just 11 days after her husband's death. Osborne's unmarried paternal uncle, who was a sailor, then assumed responsibility for the orphaned children with the intent of raising them, but he was hit by a train on October 26, 1896, just two months after Olsen's mother died. Finally, Katrine Jensen (1857-1912), the children's maternal aunt, took them in and raised them. (See Richard Arthur Norton's 2004 discussion of Olsen's history at www.findagrave.com. Osborne worked as an artist in Chicago for a few years, and opened the Osborne Art Studio in 1910. Although his mainstay work was china and porcelain decorating, he never limited his business name or his description of himself to the ceramic arts, and always referred to his business as an "art studio" and to himself as an "artist." And he was! Even though his studio was quite small compared to the likes of Pickard, Stouffer or Donath, Osborne turned out beautiful, high quality ceramic art pieces. He did not place a high priority on developing a recognizable backstamp for his studio works, and often affixed a sticker to the bottom of his wares. The stickers came off quite easily, and there are many unmarked pieces in circulation as a result. Although Osborne owned his studio, he also produced a vast amount of work, always signing his pieces "Osborne". If this printed signature is found on an unmarked piece, it is most certainly a product of the Osborne Art Studio, and painted by Osborne Olsen himself.
Alan B. Reed, author of The Collector's Encyclopedia of Pickard China, writes that: "Osborne was the only Chicago china artist of any stature to use his first name for his studio name and signature. . . . During the first seven or eight years of his career, he probably worked for one or more of the decorator wholesalers such as Pitkin & Brooks. Several antique dealers have insisted that he received his early training at Pickard. While not discounting these claims, diligent searches at antique shows and auctions and among private collections have turned up no example. Certainly, he was not one of Pickard's top artists nor was he ever Pickard's art director as a few dealers have claimed. By the time of the 1910 Census he describes himself as 'working on his own account', that is, he had his own china-decorating business in his home, and by 1914 he had opened a separate studio at 2520 North Milwaukee Avenue. Osborne did not use a backstamp on much of his product, being content to sign his name on the face of the piece, or in the case of all-over gold pieces, to scribe his signature on the bottom, In other cases, he used gummed foil labels that were easily removed after purchase. Therefore although he did employ other artists one cannot distinguish between unstamped pieces signed by an artist while working for Osborne and pieces which that artist may have made on a freelance basis. He does not seem to have encouraged - or perhaps even permitted - other artists to sign their work for him. An Osborne piece signed by anyone other than Osborne has yet to be found. . . . The studio was not a large one, and inasmuch as Osborne sold art supplies as well as decorated china from a store at the front of the building, he probably employed no more than six or eight china decorators at the studio's height. Nevertheless, he did employ some very good artists."
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