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  • Place of origin:

    Derby (made)

  • Date:

    1783-1784 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Herbert Allen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118, The Wolfson Gallery, case 2

Object Type
This ewer is purely decorative and was from a set of vases. Ewer-shaped vases were sold as part of three- and five-piece sets of vases at auctions of Derby porcelain held in 1779 and 1782. At least one pair was made to accompany a large snake-handled vase. Sets of three, five, seven or even nine vases were known as 'suites of vases' in the 18th and early 19th centuries. They were commonly set out on mantelpieces, with the largest one in the middle, much as today.

Design & Designing
The Staffordshire potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) manufactured similar ewer-shaped vases during the 1770s, and Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) made pairs of similar vases in ormolu-mounted blue-john at his Birmingham factory around 1772. All may derive from a Greek pottery prototype.

The Derby factory aimed at the top end of the market and sold much of its output from factory showrooms in Covent Garden, London. The factory also held auctions in London and had agents elsewhere, notably Bath. One London auction held in 1782 included a set of three vases accompanied by two ewers similar to this one. The ewers were described as '1 pair ewer shape vases enamel'd with figures'. The set of five realized £15 15s. At that time Derby modellers earned around £2 11s. per week.

Physical description

Ewer of soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded. Ovoid body with a narrow neck and a wavy shell-edged mouth, high loop handle rising from a satyr's mask, high foot and square plinth. In the medallion on one side is the figure of a girl holding a birdcage suspended by a string. In a medallion on the other side is a river scene with a large willow in the foreground and distant buildings.

Place of Origin

Derby (made)


1783-1784 (made)


Derby Porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded

Marks and inscriptions

'D' under a crown
In gold on top of the plinth

Incised under the base


Height: 27.6 cm

Object history note

Decoration formerly attributed to Zachariah Boreman and Richard Askew.

Descriptive line

Ewer of soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and gilded, Derby Porcelain factory, Derby, ca. 1783-1784

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

Ledger, Andrew. Richard Askew, Derby painter: Unsafe Attributions. Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle, 2011, vol. 22, pp. 39-47.
Ledger, Andrew. Richard Askew, Derby painter: Unsafe Attributions. Derby Porcelain International Society Journal, 2013, vol. 7, pp. 135-55, and fig. 4.
Young, Hilary (ed.). The Genius of Wedgwood. London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995


Soft paste porcelain; Enamels


Painted; Gilded

Subjects depicted

Girl; River; Medallion; Birdcage; Buildings; Tree


Ceramics; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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