Weekly Favorites, Parian Ware

One of the pieces we just recently “found” on our buying spree is this sweet guy. He’s a doll, {ummm, Putto actually} isn’t he? He looks like marble, but he’s actually a piece of Parian Ware. Today I’m sharing a little bit of history of parian ware.



Every properly furnished Victorian parlor contained at least one piece of it. It’s been said that Parian had the same effect on statuary as the invention of the print to painting. It was less expensive than bronze, more durable than plaster, was a way new wealthy middle classes could buy artistic pottery and porcelain of the time, and show their gentility by owning reproductions of great classical statues.

Until the arrival of Parian, sculpture was primarily owned by royalty and the very wealthy. Queen Victoria had marble statues of her children made by sculptor Mary Thornycroft , and commissioned a statue of her beloved Prince Albert as a Roman. Americans often returned from their Grand Tours of Europe with Parian statues, they had acquired “culture.”
Parian was developed as a derivative of the unglazed, white porcelain biscuit figures produced by French factories such as Sevre. Since biscuit was very flat and cold, several firms and individuals attempted to find a warmer, creamier material, more like marble from which they could mold decorative items. In the 1840’s, several factories such as Minton, Coalport, Wedgwood, and Copeland made both the figurines, as well as “holloware” ~ bowls, urns and boxes etc. Here in the states, Fenton produced pieces too.






By the late 19th century, Parian pieces were becoming less well made, which was the beginning of the end for the popularity of Parian ware. Pieces are still highly collected, and this charming fellow is a perfect examply of why. He is so well made, each lock of hair beautifully visible, each little finger and toe charmingly made.





The most desirable pieces are those of ladies, classical gods, animals and children. We just fell in love with this little scribe, maybe he’s writing a love letter? Or wondering what happened to the popularity of statues in home decor? What do you think? Do you own a statue or bust that you just love?

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

1 thought on “Weekly Favorites, Parian Ware”

  1. Janelle Corbier Moutlot

    Thank you for this wonderful article about Parian pieces. I collect, and wish I could have bought this piece from you, he is absolutely charming.

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