The name of Diane M. Lewis is found on many – perhaps most – Connoisseur of Malvern backstamps, but there are also two porcelain sculpture ranges bearing different markings: Diane Lewis Chance and/or D by D.
These backstamps are found on special commission pieces that Diane Lewis produced during the 1990s after the restructuring of the original Connoiseur studio. Most are porcelain studies but other are dimensional porcelain plaques, a number of which can be seen within the Botanical Plaques category of the Archive. In order to avert any potential confusion with the pieces produced during the actual Connoisseur of Malvern era, Mrs. Lewis decided to add her maiden name to the backstamp for these latter-day pieces.
The D by D (“Diane by Design”) backstamp appears on the two porcelain fan-and-flowers designs below. Both were extremely limited editions of only 10, and each was sold by the auction house with a black velvet display pad; it’s not known whether those were original to the pieces. The fan width is just about 14” (35.5 cm.)
The Orchid Fan displays two large burgundy-red cattleyas at the base, plus sprays of smaller orchids fanning outward from them. In the fan position shown in this photograph, the orchid flowers are actually displayed “upside down”, in other words with the lip uppermost which is not how the blooms are oriented in nature.
I am endeavoring to discover whether there were additional “flower fans” in this series, and for whom they were created.
Below are nine other sculptures bearing a Diane Lewis Chance backstamp, ranging from roses to iris to orchids. Some of them do not have a sculpture name on the backstamp, so in these instances I’ve put the descriptive/name in italics. Unfortunately, none of the descriptions mentioned the size of any of the following; that information is currently being researched and will be added later.
Sadly, this was the best of several truly awful photographs of this blue rock garden iris; the photo of the underside shows the name as simply Iris and states that it is #2 of a limited edition of unknown size. I am unsure what the initials CH stand for but I have seen something similar on other pieces of Connoisseur that were entirely marked by hand instead of with a normal backstamp.
Thankfully there was a photo of the backstamp which identifies this sculpture as Magnolia and Crabapple, part of a limited edition of 25. This sculpture has the ‘Diane by Design’ D b D backstamp on a section of the crabapple branch.
No backstamp photo, but the auction house’s handwritten note for this sculpture read “Bluebell & Primula, Made in England by Diane Lewis Chance, No. 2”. This piece may have had a handwritten mark similar to the badly-photographed blue rock garden iris above.
Finally we have an example (from an entirely different source) giving the size of the piece, which is 8” high and 12” wide (20 cm x 30.5 cm). However, other than mentioning that this was a limited edition of 10 by Diane Lewis Chance, there was no name given other than “orchid”, and only one image. This auction house is known for randomly assigning sculpture names and so for the moment I’m going to call this ‘lavender cattleya orchids’ in the temporary absence of a confirming backstamp photo.
Additional Diane Lewis Chance and D by D studies will be shown in an upcoming Part Two.
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