A Rare 18th Century Worcester Fable Plate By O'Neale


Price: £4,450.00


A very rare 18th Century Worcester fable plate decorated by J H O'Neale

Of lobed and fluted circular shape, set on a dark blue ground and elaborately gilded with rococo scrollwork, the border with nine panels of fancy flowers set around three varying landscape vignettes highlighting a central panel with Aesop's fable "The Cock & The Jewel" all painted by Jefferyes Hammett O'Neale; set against a farm house and tired old fence with a tree and lake in the background and birds in the sky, a cock and a hen perch a-top a pile of hay having discovered a necklace within.  

Circa 1768-1770

Diameter 21 cm (8.25 inches)

Square seal mark to base

Excellent condition. Sight blistering on a small area of the blue ground and some of the gilding

A similar fable plate with the "The Forrester and the Lion" by O'Neale sold at Bonhams in the R. David Butti Collection 10th May 2006, lot 73

As a trope in literature, the fable is reminiscent of stories used in zen such as the kōan. It presents, in effect, a riddle on relative values and is capable of many interpretations, depending on the point of view from which it is regarded. In its most cogent form, the fable is very short. A cockerel seeking food finds instead a precious gemstone, recognises the worth it has for others, but rejects it as being of no practical use to himself. The rejection is generally shown in the form of a direct address by the cockerel to the gemstone, as in this modern English translation:

A Cock, scratching the ground for something to eat, turned up a Jewel that had by chance been dropped there. "Ho!" said he, "a fine thing you are, no doubt, and, had your owner found you, great would his joy have been. But for me, give me a single grain of corn before all the jewels in the world."

Aesop's Fables, translated by V.S. Vernon Jones (1912)

Price upon application


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