Rare and highly important Opaque White English Chinoiserie Glass Vase and Cover


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An extremely rare and highly important Opaque White English Glass Chinoiserie Vase and Cover, probably made in the Stourbridge or Birmingham area of the Midlands, of large baluster shape the front enamelled with a series of courtly silken robed Chinese officials attending a senior figure seated upon a covered dais, with children attendants, within a stylised Chinese garden beside a running river in which ducks swim and feed. The reverse with a Deer hunt in full cry, a chinamen wearing a hat and blowing a hunting horn leads the party of others who are riding on horseback to a pack of curly tailed hounds that pursue a deer.

Circa 1755

This extremely remarkable and large vase and cover is previously unrecorded in the literature.The style and palette of the painting has in the past been attributed to Michael Edkins of Bristol but he was a delft painter and has long ago been discounted. The painting on some of the chinese inspired scenes can be carefully compared and contrasted to the earliest and the finest of the detailed coloured enamelling on the earliest class of coloured Worcester Porcelain of the First Period Dr Wall or similar to painting and decoration found on white saltglazed stoneware from this period. Though those pieces which are illustrated tend to have more similarity to the earliest of the figural patterns to be found at Worcester. Examples of patterns frequently found are Chinese figures, sometimes holding a large parasol, these are also juxtapositioned on both opaque glass vessels and Worcester porcelain vessels with large finch like birds. Robert Pococke Bishop of Meath in Ireland visits Stourbridge in 1751 and states that the glass was made there ‘in all the capital colours’. On the 24th September 1755 Holte Bridgeman of Aston in the county of Warwick, glass maker, and John Wood of Birmingham in the said county of Warwick, toy maker, petitioned for a Patent in the following terms, claiming to have ‘invented and brought to perfection the art of performing that sort of painting called enamelling (that is laying on pigment composed by vitrification and affixing them by fusion on their intended ground) and this in all colours ……That in regard your petitioners are the finest and sole inventors of the art of enamelling on blown enamel ware, which is entirely new, the same never having been perfected and executed before, and hath not been brought into public use’ This is the first specific reference to enamelling on vessel-glass in England and should be considered with the earliest dated piece of enamelled white Opaque glass, being the Flask inscribed ‘Sarah Nelson 1756’ in the Cecil Higgins Museum. Holte Bridgeman was at the Glass works at Namur in Belgium by 1761 teaching enamelling for the account books records him paid 6 pistoles for ‘having taught us several compositions in the English manner’. Bridgeman leaves his manuscript book behind here which covers the period of 15th January 1758 – 20th December 1760, this manuscript book lists the colours of his formula and test samples ‘namely: colours, 1st opaque-white; 2nd yellow;3rd blue;4th deep purple;5th light purple; 6th green; 7th black;…….’ The slightly domed cover with single knop finial matches with a smaller version of the same characteristic appearance in Delamosne ‘Gilding the Lily’ page 23 and item 6 classed and catalogued then having been manufactured in the Midlands.

Private English Collection

Private English Collection

13 Ins (33cms.)

Item No. 1643

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