Farewell my Valentine

‘The Sailors Farewell’ cup and saucer, on display in the Global City gallery at the Museum of Liverpool

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Working late, forgot the flowers, no card this year? Spare a thought for the wife of this sailor, whose husband must soon depart for many weeks or months on board ship without contact from home.


A sailor’s life was a dangerous one, where being swept overboard or wrecked without hope of rescue were a constant risk.  Forget texts or Facebook, this young woman would have to wait until he returned home to know if he was safe or not.


Known as ‘The Sailors Farewell’ this porcelain teacup and saucer was made in China in the early 1800s for sale to European socialites who enjoyed the delicate art of tea drinking.


This rare example of a European couple painted by Chinese artists is on display in the Global City gallery at the Museum of Liverpool, alongside some of the best examples of Liverpool and Chinese pottery from the 18th and 19th centuries.


The display 'East meets West: the story of Shanghai and Liverpool' in the Global City gallery illustrates how potters in Liverpool upped their game by imitating Chinese porcelain (even going so far as to add fake Chinese marks to the base) to meet the insatiable demand of consumers.  

Francesca Aiken, assistant exhibition curator for the Global City gallery in the Museum of Liverpool