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Vase - The Foundling Vase

The Foundling Vase

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1762-1763 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chelsea Porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue enamels, with gilding

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53a, case 5 []

Object Type
The vase was made as one of a pair, although the two were separated soon after they were completed. They were purely decorative, intended solely for display, and they may have been made as showpieces to demonstrate the scope and quality that the Chelsea factory was capable of.

Ownership & Use
In 1763 a Dr George Garnier presented the vase to London's Foundling Hospital for abandoned children, which also housed Britain's first public art gallery. Its pair (now known as the Chesterfield Vase) remained unsold until 1770. The V&A's vase remained at the Hospital until 1869, when it was sold for £1,500 to the Earl of Dudley. The Earl had already bought its companion for 'upwards of £2,000' from the Earl of Chesterfield.

Design & Designing
The vase was inspired by Sévres porcelain vases of about 1760. However, with the British and French fighting on opposite sides during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the conflict would have prevented the Chelsea factory from obtaining actual Sévres vases to copy. Features derived from Sévres include the elaboration of the Rococo scrollwork handles, the tooled gilding, the 'mazarine' blue ground and the richly-enamelled panels. The enamelled figure subject is copied from Le Berger Recompense, an engraving after François Boucher (1703-1770).

Physical description

The Foundling Vase, soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamel colours in reserves on a Mazarine blue ground, and gilt, 60 x 29 x 24 cm. Unmarked.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1762-1763 (made)


Chelsea Porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain, painted in underglaze blue enamels, with gilding


Height: 61 cm

Object history note

Presented in 1763 to the Foundling Hospital, London, which housed Britain's first public art gallery, by Dr George Garnier Made at the Chelsea porcelain factory, London

Descriptive line

The Foundling Vase, soft-paste porcelain, painted in enamel colours in reserves on a Mazarine blue ground, Chelsea porcelain factory, ca.1762-3

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

Baker, Malcolm and Richardson, Brenda, eds. A Grand Design : The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1997. 431 p., ill. ISBN 1851773088.
Hunt, Tristram & Whitfield, Victoria. Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on. Manchester: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2007. 57p., ill
ISBN 9780901673725
Adams, Elizabeth. Chelsea Porcelain, The British Museum Press, 2001, 2nd. edition. Illustrated fig. 11.25, 160p

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The ambitious vases of the Chelsea porcelain factory, made in the 1760s, with blue grounds and elaborate gilding, were inspired by those made at Sèvres, the royal French porcelain factory. The painter has copied the pastoral scene from a print by François Boucher (1703-1770) whose engravings were also used at Sèvres. [27/03/2003]


Ceramics; Vases


Ceramics Collection

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