After the sale of the Connoisseur of Malvern studio, Diane Lewis launched a small, exclusive studio of her own under the name Diane by Design. As a ‘bespoke’ operation, it gave her the freedom to create small editions of porcelain creations in various interesting styles and genres. (See this post for a selection.)
In 1986 Turner Home Entertainment acquired the rights to the MGM film library which included the iconic movie Gone with the Wind. This meant that Turner also now had the licensing rights for any new items created based on the movie. By 1989 many licensed items, ranging from collector plates and figurines to playing cards, kitchen towels, music boxes, and clothing items, began to appear and by the early 1990s the flood of licensed products was in full spate.
Most of them were exactly what you’d expect: mass market items produced offshore and in large quantities, selling for relatively affordable prices. All of the big merchandising operations (Franklin Mint, Hamilton Collection, Danbury Mint, etc.) got into the act. There was even a Scarlett O’Hara Barbie doll!
Very few of the recognized porcelain studios produced a Gone with the Wind item. In 1968 the Cybis studio in Trenton, NJ, introduced a seated female figure they named Scarlett, but took pains to not associate her with the movie. In fact, they gave her red hair and blue eyes, rather than the black hair and green eyes described in the book and seen in Vivien Leigh’s portrayal. Royal Doulton made a Scarlett under license from Turner in 1999. Royal Worcester eventually produced a Scarlett in porcelain as part of a “Southern Belle Collection” but not until 2001. The Boehm studio never produced a GWTW item at all, which is surprising considering Helen Boehm’s penchant for latching onto trends; perhaps they simply could not strike an acceptable deal with Turner.
However it came about, Turner granted a license to Diane Lewis (as Design by Diane, not Connoisseur of Malvern) to produce two porcelain Gone with the Wind items: a flower basket and a cameo. Their retail prices are unknown. Many thanks to the helpful Archive reader who supplied the photographs used in this post!
Legend of Tara flower basket
The lush flower basket is titled Legend of Tara on the underside. It is 10” (25.5 cm) high, 15” (38 cm) long, and was a limited edition of 25. The brochure that advertised this issue says that “each basket is adorned with a removeable porcelain cameo” although I don’t know exactly how the “adornment” was done.
The underside of the basket is carefully marked, and also hand-signed by Diane Lewis.
Among the flowers in the basket are a large pink camellia, white dogwood, pale lavender azaleas, daffodils, and peach blossoms.
Legend of Tara cameo
The oval bas-relief cameo, also titled Legend of Tara, is 2.25” high and 3.25” wide (about 6 cm x 8 cm), with holes at the top to which short lengths of chain and a lobster-claw clasp are attached. This probably was intended to hang from the bottom of the basket’s handle, although I wouldn’t chance that myself! The edition size for the cameo was larger (100), which means that is must have also been available separately. Cameos that accompanied the flower basket were numbered to match; e.g., the #9 flower basket had a #9 cameo. Although the brochure says that the cameos were signed by Diane Lewis, this one was not. The small initials FG at the lower left are those of Freda Griffiths, who did almost all of the painting for the Designs by Diane / D by D pieces.
Legend of Tara brochure
The marketing brochure was produced by the same USA representative (Couch Associates) who had handled all of the Connoisseur of Malvern retail distribution in the 1980s. It made sense that Diane Lewis would have continued that association for her own line of porcelain, at least during the early to mid 1990s.
It’s interesting that the brochure describes these two items as “the first in a series of exquisite porcelain studies, based upon great American movie classics.” It’s not clear whether this refers not to Diane Lewis specifically, or instead to Turner Home Entertainment’s intention to look for higher-quality porcelain items from other studios as well.
The back cover is a short biography of Diane Lewis that mentions both Boehm of Malvern and Connoisseur of Malvern (and also misspells Worcester as “Worchester”!) but does not cite her then-current Designs by Diane imprimatur specifically.
The brochure’s image of the basket does not show the cameo attached to the basket in any way. Their image of the cameo lacks the two holes for a chain attachment, probably indicating that the 75 which were not included with a flower basket were made without them.
It would be interesting to discover whether Diane Lewis created any further designs based on the classic films acquired by Turner, or whether these two GWTW pieces were the ‘first and only.’
Images of Connoisseur of Malvern porcelain sculptures herein are provided for informational and educational purposes only, not for reproduction, resale or advertising. All photographs are copyrighted by their owner as indicated via watermark. Photographs with a Connoisseur watermark originally appeared within their copyrighted publications and appear here via the kind permission of Connoisseur of Malvern, Ltd.