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Chelsea Porcelain Works [London] (c. 1745-69)

Pair of vases with covers c. 1750 - 1752

Porcelain, gilt bronze | 50.5 x 17.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 2336

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  • A pair of porcelain hexagonal vases and covers in the Japanese 'Kakiemon' style, mounted with gilt bronze.

    These vases are unusually large survivors from the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory, which in the 1750s looked to Kakiemon-style palettes and designs for inspiration. The hexagonal shape had been produced in Japan for around a century prior to this English pair, but the alternating façades of plum blossom, pine and bamboo trees with panels of red and green foliate decoration were unusual in Japanese porcelain. Nevertheless, the vases have variously been ascribed both English and Japanese origins during their time in the Royal Collection.

    George IV employed several suppliers to add extraordinary gilt-bronze mounts to the porcelain he acquired. The designs on these are English approximations of Asian design but also matched the wider decorative schemes at Brighton Pavilion where they first stood. A pair of Japanese Kakiemon-style vases, similarly mounted with Greek key pattern feet, was displayed alongside these in the Banqueting Room Gallery at Brighton, surrounded by commodes made from Japanese lacquer panels by Benjamin Vulliamy (rcin 2452.1–2).24 The origin of such porcelain, where the Asian and European productions appeared relatively similar, was considered secondary to the colour palettes and interior design of the state rooms.

    Text adapted from Japan: Courts and Culture (2020)

    There is a similar vase in the Seattle Art Museum (Martha and Henry Isaacson Gift 69.166) and a similar pair is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

    Probably acquired by George IV.

    Recorded in the Banqueting Room Gallery, South Chimney Piece in the Brighton Pavilion Inventory 1829 (Vol B p 6) as ' A pair of hexagon Jars and Covers, with alternate red and white sides, finely enamelled in scrolls, trees, and flowers - pierced tops, ormolu borders, scrolls, chains & foliage paws, mounted on pierced circular stands, with projecting key feet - twenty inches glass shade and stands'. Noted in the Centre Room in the 1929 Buckingham Palace Inventory.

  • Medium and techniques

    Porcelain, gilt bronze


    50.5 x 17.5 cm (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    Chelsea [London]