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  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1876 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Elkington & Co. (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cloisonné enamel on gilt metal

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
The manufacture of this vase appears to copy Japanese cloisonné decoration but technically, such enamel vases made by the Elkington factory in Birmingham, are quite different from the Japanese originals. Whereas Japanese enamellers used traditional wire cloisonné techniques, Elkingtons made the vase by electro-deposition (electroforming), providing cavities for the enamels. The overall effect is similar to the champlevé technique, where enamel infills incised or indented metal.

The influence of Japanese art on western goods was particularly strong in the late 19th century after Japan ended a self-imposed isolation that had lasted for nearly 200 years. Exhibitions of Japanese art caused a sensation in London in 1862 and in Paris in 1867. As in the decoration of this vase, the West imitated and adapted a wide range of techniques and styles used by Japanese artists and craftsmen to suit the taste of a western market.

Historical Associations
This vase was shown at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and may have been made especially for the exhibition. The Museum bought the vase directly from the exhibition for £13 10s. Elkingtons in Birmingham, the makers of this vase, were the only leading British silversmiths to show at Philadelphia. They produced these vases for only a few years, as it was more cost effective to import decorative enamelwares from Japan.

Physical description

Pattern of flowers and storks on red & green grounds, with floral borders on turquoise.
Champlevé enamel on copper-gilt

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1876 (made)


Elkington & Co. (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cloisonné enamel on gilt metal

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped on the base, Elkington and Co.


Height: 16 cm, Diameter: 13.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Japanese style had international appeal. The Museum bought this piece, made by Elkingtons in Birmingham, from the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Elkingtons improvised. Whereas Japanese enamellers used traditional wire cloisonné techniques, Elkingtons electroformed the vase, complete with cavities for the enamels. Elkingtons only produced these vases for a few years, but continued to import enamels from Japan.

Descriptive line

Cloisonné enamel on copper, Birmingham, made by Elkington and Co., 1876

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Hokusai and Japonisme. Catalogue of the exhibition held at The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 21 October 2017 to 28 January 2018. Tokyo: National Museum of Western Art, 2017. ISBN 9784907442200.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
CLOISONNÉ VASES, Japanese and British

This vase, made by the British firm of Elkington & co., displays Japanese techniques as well as motifs. Cloisonné, in which patterns are created with coloured enamels outlined by wires, was often used on British objects made in the Japanese style in the late 19th century. Japanese vases like the one on the right were collected and studied by British manufacturers. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Birds


Metalwork; Vases


Metalwork Collection

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