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Vase and cover

Vase and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Derby (made)

  • Date:

    1770-1774 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Derby Porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels, gilded and moulded

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber

  • Museum number:

    414:239/1, 2-1885

  • Gallery location:

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

Object Type
Perfume vases (also known as 'essence pots' and pot-pourri vases) were set out on chimneypieces. They were filled with pot-pourri (perfumed or sweet-smelling leaves) similar to those used to sweeten the air in domestic interiors today. Perfume vases of this design were made in pairs, but also sold singly.

Design & Designing
The market for vases in the 'antique' style grew rapidly in the late 1760s, as the Neo-classical style gained ground. The demand was so great that, in addition to copying genuine Greek and Roman antiquities, manufacturers took designs from prints of the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of these prints were highly fanciful inventions, which may not have been seriously intended for production. The design here is taken from a print in Joseph-Marie Vien's Suite de Vases of 1760. The shape was made at Chelsea prior to its takeover by the Derby porcelain factory in 1770. Vien's engraved design was also copied in Black Basalt by the Staffordshire potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795).

Chelsea porcelain vases of this shape were sold at a London auction held in 1770. They were described as 'antique urns upon pedestals ... ornamented with womens heads, and garlands of flowers'. They realized £6 5s for a pair and £3 12s for a single one. At that time, Chelsea and Derby modellers earned around £2 11s. per week.

Physical description

Vase and cover of soft-paste porcelain, painted with enamels, gilded and moulded.

Place of Origin

Derby (made)


1770-1774 (made)


Derby Porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels, gilded and moulded


Height: 27.3 cm, Diameter: 12.1 cm

Object history note

One of a pair with 414:239/3, 4-1885 (Sch. I 372B&C)
The pair was purchased by Lady Charlotte Schreiber from Cavalle or Cavallo, London, for £110 in August 1868

The vases were probably made during the Chelsea-Derby period of production, but the model had earlier been made by Sprimont, whose sale of 1770 included 'small antique urns upon pedestal, crimson and gold, decorated with women's heads and flowers'. Similar tripod-vases were made in Basalt by Wedgwood & Bentley. The design is taken from a print of 1760 after Joseph Marie Vien (see Clifford 1978).

Descriptive line

Vase and cover of soft-paste porcelain, painted with enamels, gilded and moulded, made by Derby Porcelain factory, Derby, ca. 1770-1774.

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

Clifford, Timothy. Some English Ceramic Vases and their Sources, Part 1. English Ceramic Circle Transactions. Vol. 10, part 3. Pl. 83A&C
Young, Hilary (ed.). The Genius of Wedgwood. London : Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995

Labels and date

British Galleries:

Vases were a very important element of the Neo-classical style. The pottery manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood, who could hardly make them fast enough, spoke of 'vasemania'. They appeared as three-dimensional objects and as decorative motifs. Vase forms also influenced the shape of practical items of all sorts, from tea canisters to candlesticks. Designers plundered sources far and wide for new designs, from Greek pottery to 16th- and 17th-century prints. [27/03/2003]


Soft paste porcelain


Painted; Gilded; Moulded

Subjects depicted



Ceramics; British Galleries; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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