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Victoria pierced

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Stoke-on-Trent (made)

  • Date:

    1851 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jeannest, Pierre-Emile, born 1813 - died 1857 (modeller)
    Kirkby, Thomas, born 1821 - died 1890 (painter (artist))
    Minton (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Parian and glazed bone china, painted and gilt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 122, case 4

Object Type
This tiered centrepiece for a dessert service is a shape which Minton called an 'assiette montée'. It was intended partly as a table ornament and partly for serving sweetmeats or fruit.

The designer and figure-modeller, Pierre-Emile Jeannest (1813-1857) was the son of a French bronzier and pupil of Delaroche. He worked for Minton for several years between about 1848 and 1854. Thomas Kirkby (1824-1890) was a leading Minton painter and designer who spent over 50 years with the factory.

This piece is a duplicate of part of a 116-piece dessert service shown by Minton at the Great Exhibition. The replica was specially made for the Museum of Manufactures at Marlborough House. It was acquired because of its 'successful turquoise colour' and as an example of 'the highest state of English ceramic manufacture'. Queen Victoria had been so struck by the appearance of the original service when she attended the preview of the Great Exhibition that she purchased it. After the close of the Exhibition she presented it to the Emperor of Austria. It can now be seen in the Hofsilber -und Tafelkammer at the Hofburg in Vienna.

Materials & Making
The combination of glazed and decorated bone china with unglazed Parian figures was praised by the Great Exhibition jury for its 'original design, high degree of beauty and harmony of effect', though some objected to it. John Tallis, in his History and Description of the Crystal Palace (1852) also praises the 'bleu celeste' (turquoise colour) as being 'scarcely inferior to that of old Sèvres', which it was largely emulating.

Physical description

Centrepiece of glazed porcelain with Parian ware figures.

Place of Origin

Stoke-on-Trent (made)


1851 (made)


Jeannest, Pierre-Emile, born 1813 - died 1857 (modeller)
Kirkby, Thomas, born 1821 - died 1890 (painter (artist))
Minton (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Parian and glazed bone china, painted and gilt


Height: 71 cm maximum, Width: 41 cm maximum

Object history note

The centrepiece was bought from the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is a duplicate of part of a dessert service presented to the Empress of Austria by Queen Victoria.

Historical significance: Queen Victoria puchased a 116 piece 'Victoria pierced' dessert service in bleu celeste at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The queen was overwhelmed by the spectacular service with allegorical figure supports modelled by Pierre-Emile Jeannest. She previewed the exhibition the day before the official opening and wrote in her journal 'We saw beautiful china from Minton's factory and beautiful designs'. She purchased the service as a gift for the Empress of Prussia but gave permission for it to remain on display for the duration of the exhibition.
The service was unique because it was the first time that bone china and Parian had been used together. It was the centre of attention and caused considerable controversy. It was described in the Art Journal as a service 'of exceeding beauty, designed with pure artistic skill and exhibiting in manipulation and finish, a degree of refinement that has rarely if ever been surpassed in modern art' but some objected to the mixing of Parian and porcelain bodies as detracting from the unity of the object. Richard Redgrave commented upon the success of the gilding on the Parian.

Descriptive line

Centrepiece of glazed porcelain supported by Parian ware figures. British (Stoke-on-Trent), 1851. Made by Minton's, the Parian figures modelled by Pierre-Emile Jeannest.

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

Jones, Joan. Minton: The First Two Hundred Years of Design and Production. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press, 1993. pp.?
See Object Information file in Ceramics and Glass Section offices.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This is the same model as a piece that attracted much attention at the Exhibition. It was the first time that bone china and unglazed Parian porcelain had been used together. Queen Victoria was so impressed that she purchased it as a gift for the Empress of Austria. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851.


Parian (porcelain); Bone china; Parian


Modelling (forming); Painting (image-making)


British Galleries; Ceramics


Ceramics Collection

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