A ceramic charger with underglaze decoration by English-born artist John Bennett. After a successful career in England as a decorator at Royal Doulton, Bennett settled in New York City shortly after exhibiting his work to great acclaim at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
The shallow circular charger is decorated with a motif of a heavily-pruned branch of a gnarled Apple tree, covered in pink blossoms and buds. A flighty bird appears to be launching itself towards a yellow butterfly near the left edge. The scene is depicted against a mottled blue background.
While he is best known for his floral motifs, Bennett harbored a fascination with birds; several of his watercolor sketches survive, including studies of an injured Swift that Bennett found outside of his studio and rescued, with a hand-written notation on the reverse describing the event.
This charger is signed and dated '1877' on the reverse with the location of Bennett's Lexington Avenue studio, which he occupied briefly before moving to East 24th Street in 1879. Bennett later moved his studio to New Jersey in 1883.
Diameter: 12 1/2 inches (32 centimeters)