Exhibitions 2012

Picturesque Porcelain: British Landscape on a Plate

Porcelain plate from the Miller bequest

Cafe exhibition
Until May 2012
Robin Miller, a descendant of Thomas Miller, who owned one of Preston’s most successful cotton manufacturers, Horrockses, left a generous bequest in his will to the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in 2011. This display highlighted pieces from an elegantly detailed service of Crown Derby porcelain dinnerware.

Robin spent much of his life in London, working as a theatre director, but maintained a great affinity with Preston through his family heritage. Part of his bequest has already been put on display for visitors to enjoy.

The new display from the bequest showcases an elegantly detailed service of Crown Derby porcelain dishes, plates and tureens, prominently displayed in cases around the Harris’ central rotunda, appropriately, where the Museum’s café is located. 

The service is decorated with intricately detailed landscapes of the British countryside that inspired artists and writers of the early 1800s, and that are still popular tourist destinations today, such as the Lake District and Derbyshire. The scenes of rural land and workers in Cumberland and Derbyshire portray a romanticised version of country life.

The new display was created with help of members of the Blackpool Victoria Hospital Walking Club, who shared their experiences of the British countryside and helped to identify the locations painted on the ceramics. Comments by the group can be seen alongside the collection.

The porcelain objects on display are from a 39 piece dessert service, produced in around 1810. It would have been used to serve ice cream, sugar, and jellied fruits called sweetmeats. The service is an excellent example of Crown Derby porcelain, decorated with the picturesque landscapes inside gilt borders.

The bequest also features 17 paintings, by artists such as Davis Cox and William Henry Hunt which were part of the original art collection of Robin’s great-great grandfather Thomas Miller Junior, who owned Horrockses Cotton Manufacturers and lived in Winckley Square and Singleton Hall, and gave the land to establish Preston’s Miller Park. The bequest also includes a fine portrait of the founder of this cotton dynasty, Robin Miller’s great-great-great Grandfather, Thomas Miller Senior, who jointly owned Preston’s Horrockses cotton manufacturers from 1801 to 1840 with John and Samuel Horrocks, and who was three times Mayor of Preston.

Robin is fondly remembered by the museum, and Emma Heslewood, Curator of History said:

‘Robin was passionate about his family history and keen to see the collections his great-great grandfather developed in Preston return to Lancashire. He had already donated the families’ extensive photographic collection to the Harris and wanted the art collection to join them when he died. Robin’s generosity to the people of Preston will always be remembered.’

Image: Porcelain shell dish from a dessert service made by Crown Derby, about 1810

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Harris Museum and Art Gallery

Market Square,
PR1 2PP 

T 01772 258248 (office 10am-4pm)
T 01772 905414 (event bookings)
E This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FREE Entry

f logoHarris Museum
And Art Gallery





Museum, Art Gallery, Library & Makerspace
Please note we will be closed until 12.30pm on Thursday 12 October for essential staff training
Mon 11am-5pm
(Library 10am-7pm)

Tue 10am-5pm

Wed 10am-8pm
(Library 10am-7pm)

Thur 10am-5pm

Fri 10am-5pm

Sat 10am-5pm

Sun 11am-4pm

IT Centre Computers open 9am daily, except Sundays 11am

Café and Shop
Daily 10am-4pm, except Sundays 11am-3.30pm