Rare Early European Porcelain
These extremely rare items (items 9 to 12 photographed in the display case), were made in Meissen, Germany during the very earliest years of porcelain production in Europe.
Prior to 1708 porcelain was exclusively imported from the Far-East and fetched prices, weight-for-weight, in excess of gold at that time. There are conflicting claims, but it is generally accepted that in 1708 German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, after a story that reads like a thriller, was the first person to succeed in making porcelain in Europe.
In 1710 a factory in Meissen, Germany became the first to commercially produce porcelain in Europe. The formula was a closely guarded secret, but gradually details of the formula spread and more factories went into production.
Shown above: Two experimental tea bowls by Meissen
Shown below: Display of early porcelain pieces c. 1716- 20
See below for details about the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Sèvres porcelain inkstand c. 1758-59
This stunning Sèvres porcelain inkstand was a gift from Louis XV of France to his daughter Marie-Adelaide and was made in 1758-59 by Sèvres.
The set consists of two globes, one terrestrial and the other celestial and a central crown with pens being laid on the undulating tray. The terrestrial globe (shown on the right) held the ink well. The celestial globe (on the left) held the sand shaker used for drying ink on the page. The little pierced star shapes in this orb would twinkle as candlelight reflected from the internally gilded surface. Under the central crown was a bell which sat on a piece of sponge used to wipe pen nibs.
The piece was grounded in green (a green china painters would today call Sèvres Green) and painted with cherubs. The medallion on the front featured the head of the King.
This unusual and beautiful piece was acquired in 1843 by the family who bequeathed their collection to the British state in 1897, thus becoming The Wallace Collection Museum. See below for details on the Wallace Collection Museum.
Sèvres Pot-pourri Vase c. 1766
The porcelain Pot-pourri Vase shown below was made by Sèvres in 1766.
The piece features a rich dark-blue grounded background, overlaid with an elaborate gilded design. The opening is not just below the gilded knob as one might suspect, but is the whole area above the light coloured pierced panel half way down the piece.
The vase was acquired in 1842 by the Wallace family who later bequeathed their complete collection to the British people in 1897. It is today known as The Wallace Collection.
The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection can be found at Hertford House, Manchester Square in London, the former residence of Sir Richard Wallace. It is a national museum created following a bequeath to the nation in 1897 by Lady Wallace the widow of Sir Richard Wallace. The Collection was brought together by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. Following the bequeath to the national The Wallace Collection Museum opened to the public in 1900.
I was treated to the best collections of Sèvres porcelain I have laid eyes on as well as several stunning Meissen exhibits. There was also a wonderful collection of miniatures, antique furniture and clocks. Too much to take in in one visit!
"Among the Collection's treasures are an outstanding array of 18th-century French art, many important 17th and 19th century paintings, medieval and Renaissance works of art and the finest collection of princely arms and armour in Britain"
- is how the Collection is described in the introduction to their guide book.
The Wallace Collection offers free entry and hosts special exhibitions. More information can be found by visiting their website at www.wallacecollection.org.
image: Hertford House, Manchester Sq
photo by Anthony O'Neil
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative art and design, as well as sculpture and houses a collection of over a reputed 2.27 million objects.
The museum was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A is located in the district of Kensington, London UK and is located in an area featuring other major cultural institutions such as the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London.
The V&A has 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Its exhibits of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
Entry to the Museum is free and is a short walk from South Kensington underground train station. There is also a dining area in the museum that offers comprehensive and delicious lunches! For more information visit their website at: www.vam.ac.uk.
image: V&A Museum, London
Photo by David Iliff. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
All photographs are © A Blake 2019
unless otherwise stated