These remarkable and rare Dublin bough pots were discovered in the Birr Castle House sale. They were presumably originally acquired by Sir Laurence Parsons, 3rd Baronet of Birr, who augmented the family fortunes by his fortuitous marriage to Mary, elder daughter and co-heiress of William Sprigge, of Cloonive, King's Co. The serving M.P. for King's County, like his grandfather before him, Sir Lawrence was an early member of the Royal Dublin Society and supporter of the Delamain factory.
Polychrome Dublin delftware is very rare and the muted palette of pale blue, green, purple and yellow is distinct from the 'Fazackerly' palette used extensively in Liverpool. The Dublin attribution of the present pair is based on this palette and characteristics of the glaze. This form of bough-pot or bouquetière is normally found on the Continent, particularly in France, though other examples in English delftware are known. Flower vessels of this form would not be out of place in a factory competing with French faience imports. In addition, an advertisment, placed by Mary Dorgan in the Cork Evening Post on 26th November 1759, begins 'Just imported from Dublin, by Mary Dorgan, all kinds of Delamain's Ware' and lists tableware and 'curious flower Pots of the same ware...' (Peter Francis, ibid., p. 58).
The first piece of coloured Irish delftware to be tentatively attributed is an initialled, inscribed and crested punch bowl dated 1756 in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Bernard Rackham, Catalogue of the Glaisher Collection of Pottery & Porcelain in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, London, 1935, Vol. I, p. 217, no. 1752, Vol. II, pl. 120A). The initials on the bowl and the crest are identified as Thomas Verner of Vernor's Bridge, Co. Armagh; the bowl was formerly in the collection of the Earl of Gosford until the early 1920s (Gosford Castle sale, 21 April 1921, lot 98). This early provenance coupled with the crest and initials led Rackham and Glaisher to suggest an Irish attribution.
The production of polychrome wares in Dublin was not confirmed until the 1970s with the identification of a platter decorated in the Continental style on a form confidently attributed to Dublin. Later, shards were recovered at Dublin Castle with coloured decoration. Polychrome service wares, and a handful of useful and decorative wares such as candlesticks, epergnes and a vase, have come to light but the present flower holders would appear to be the only pair recorded from an Irish maker of this unusual form and decoration.