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Rhinoceros vase

  • Object:

    Vase and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Swinton (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1826 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Steele, Edwin, born 1803 - died 1871 (painter (artist))
    Rockingham Ceramic Factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, painted and gilded

  • Museum number:

    47&A-1869

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 18 []

Object Type
Though clearly made as an elaborate ornamental piece, the form nevertheless follows the basic conventions of a 'scent jar' with its perforated neck. Such vases, often small enough to place on the mantelpiece, were filled with potpourri to serve as room fresheners.

People
Thomas Brameld, designer of this piece, was proprietor of the Swinton Pottery on the estate of the wealthy Earl Fitzwilliam. From at least 1818, Brameld severely strained his resources by attempting to manufacture porcelain. His eventual bankruptcy in 1825 was, however, happily resolved by the intervention of the Earl, who thenceforward underwrote the factory's debts. Earl Fitzwilliam also allowed them to name the pottery works after his famous forebear, the Marquis of Rockingham, and to use his griffin crest as a mark.

Trading
In the 1820s, both the manufacture and use of luxury porcelain still carried considerable prestige. The collaboration between the Bramelds and Earl Fitzwilliam in Yorkshire should perhaps be seen in the context of royal appointments, for example George III's visit to the Worcester factory in 1788 and the Prince Regent's visit to Spode's in 1806.

This colossal show piece was much admired at the time of its manufacture in 1826, despite its bizarre combination of ill-matched elements. An even larger version of the vase, intended to amaze visitors to the factory, was eventually given to Earl Fitzwilliam when the factory closed in 1842.

Physical description

Porcelain vase of ovoid form, with a cover. Both painted with groups of flowers, surrounded by naturalistically modelled and gilt acorns and oak leaves, with handles in the form of three gnarled branches. The neck represents a honeycomb with bees and the cover is surmounted by a gilt rhinoceros.

Place of Origin

Swinton (made)

Date

ca. 1826 (made)

Artist/maker

Steele, Edwin, born 1803 - died 1871 (painter (artist))
Rockingham Ceramic Factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, painted and gilded

Dimensions

Height: 96.3 cm, Diameter: 45 cm

Object history note

A companion vase is at Rotherham Museum, it was originally part of the Earl Fitzwilliam Collections at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Descriptive line

Porcelain vase and cover, painted with groups of flowers, surrounded by naturalistically modelled and gilt acorns and oak leaves, with handles in the form of three gnarled branches and surmounted by a gilt rhinoceros. British (Swinton), 1830. Made by the Rockingham factory.

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

['The Rhinoceros Vase'. In: The Connoisseur. September 1949.]
[Jewitt. Ceramic Art in Great Britain. Vol.I, p.512.]
[Honey, W. B. Old English Porcelain. London: Faber & Faber, 1948. p.222, plate 112.]
[Honey, W. B. Old English Porcelain. London: Black, 1947. p.229.]
See Object Information file in Ceramics and Glass Section offices.
Oakey, David. Celebratory Ceramics: A Royal History. English Ceramics Circle Transactions, 2012, Volume 23, pp. 193-212. Illustrated fig. 15, p.203.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This fantastic vase was certainly made as an eye-catcher. It was probably used to advertise the technical and artistic skill of the Rockingham factory in a London shop or showroom. The basic shape is a classical vase but this has been overlaid with an exuberant array of naturalistic ornament typical of the Rococo Revival. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

The flower paintings on the vase are by Edwin Steele.

Materials

Porcelain

Techniques

Painting (image-making); Gilding

Subjects depicted

Landscapes (representations); Oak-leaves; Rhinoceros (animal); Paw feet; Flowers (plants)

Categories

British Galleries; Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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