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Chamberlain & Co.: Worcester (c. 1786-1852)

Battle of Waterloo commemorative plate 1816

Porcelain | 3.2 x 21.5 x 21.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 10884.5

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  • One of a set of circular porcelain plates. The centre painted with a view of the battlefield of Waterloo, green outer border with gilt lines. Gilt title on a white ground below the view '18 June 1815: a near view of the Observatory'.

    This 60 ft. wooden trigonometrical observatory had been erected six weeks before the Battle of Waterloo by Dutch engineers on the orders of the King of the Netherlands to assist in a survey of the surrounding countryside. It was erected south of Hougoumont and east of the Mon Plaisir farm. The Emperor is thought to have spent some time reconnoitring the ground from the observatory in the early morning of 18 June 1815 but it is now known that he did not use the observatory once the conflict had begun. By 1817 the observatory had fallen down.

    In 1783, Robert Chamberlain (c.1736–98), head of the decorating department for Dr. John Wall at Warmstry House, left the company to start his own porcelain decorating business in King Street, Worcester.

    The factory quickly established a reputation for the production of finely painted porcelain. Customers would choose the decoration for individual ‘cabinet’ pieces and views of country houses and figure subjects taken from prints of well-known paintings were fashionable. The factory built up a large library of source material for artists to work from; scenes from Shakespeare’s plays were copied from engravings published by John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall.

    Soon after the allied victory at Waterloo the battlefield became a focus for tourists and mementoes commemorating the battle became very popular of which these plates, showing areas where significant events took place on 18 June 1815, are an example.  These views are taken from contemporary engravings published in 1816.

    The Prince Regent awarded Chamberlain a Royal Warrant in 1807. Porcelain was sold at his shop at 33 Worcester High Street and through china dealers in other large towns. In 1813 Chamberlain opened a London showroom at 63 Piccadilly, moving to 155 New Bond Street in 1816. These plates are marked with the New Bond Street address. Ths plate is part of an order 'October 31st ... 1816 [part of an order for] His RH the Prince Regent. a set of '12 Plates, 8in. (views of Waterloo) – 73s. 6d. £44 2s 0d'.

  • Medium and techniques



    3.2 x 21.5 x 21.5 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative title(s)

    18 June 1815: a near view of the Observatory