- Museum number
Vase and cover; soft-paste porcelain; moulded; hexagonal; painted over the glaze in colours with two panels of exotic birds and two of flowers and two with scenes in Flemish style in oblong panels with rococo gilt ornament all on scale-blue ground; above each panel is a shaped cartouche containing flowers in colours; the domed lid is similarly painted with six reserves each containing a flower; marked.
- Production date
- 1770 (circa)
Height: 28.30 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Pair with 1921,1215.1.b
Text from Dawson 2007:
Hexagonal moulded vases are uncommon at Worcester. The shape ultimately derives from Japanese vases copied at the Chelsea factory in the early 1750s. These Worcester examples, which have a blue scale ground, are painted in a subtle palette distinguished by strong red-brown and purple tones with two panels of of long-tailed exotic birds in a landscape and two panels of rather stiffly painted flowers alternating with two figure scenes in the Flemish style. On one vase the first scene depicts a couple seated by a barrel watched from a nearby tavern by a woman with a jug in the foreground; the second scene shows a man playing the hurdy-gurdy standing beside a woman at his right, while in front of her is a child playing a triangle. On the other vase the first scene depicts a man playing the violin with two male companions and the second shows a man seated on a barrel holding a document in his left hand and his hat in his right; behind him are a man with a jug of beer and a woman; in the background is a building with a leaded window.
The vases are unsigned but the style of painting is firmly attributed to John Donaldson (1737-1801). Born in Edinburgh, he worked there painting flowers, fruit, figures and landscapes before coming to London in1760. in London he executed portraits and miniatures, and was evidently in society as he was mentioned in the London Journal of his fellow Scot James Boswell in March 1763. In 1764 and 1768 he was awarded a premium by the Society of Arts for the best picture in enamels. A mezzotint published in 1769 by J. Finlayson after Donaldson, entitled 'The Newsmongers' is in the British Museum (Prints and Drawings, 1876,7-8.2533). In the Marshall Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is a blue ground vase and cover decorated by Donaldson with a scene after François Lemoyne (1688-1737). This scene is known on a green-ground Sèvres porcelain vase in Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. The scenes on the British Museum vases are in the style of David Teniers the Younger (1610-90). The themes of drinking and music are frequently found in the work of Teniers and other contemporary Flemish painters. Donaldson himself may have devised these groups of relatively refined figures who interact with each other in an outdoor setting, using a Flemish model as inspiration. Although versions of these particular scenes are not found on Sèvres vases, Flemish scenes do occur on Sèvres porcelain, emphasizing the popularity of seventeenth-century Flemish painting in eighteenth-century France. The decoration of many Worcester productions shows the influence of Sèvres in a generalized way, not least in the production over a long period of a series of coloured grounds in imitation of the French royal factory. The scenes chosen by Donaldson perhaps reflect his detailed knowledge of Sèvres painted vases or, at the very least, the spread of French taste across the Channel in the 1760s.
The exotic birds and flowers in the remaining panels are likely to have been painted by a different painter at the Worcester factory, and are similar in decoration on other contemporary vases and service wares made there.
Less than eighteen months after the Lloyd Collection began, as far as one can tell from the surviving invoices, the couple paid the huge sum of £1,430 to Geo. R. Harding of 18 St James's Square for a 'Pair of Worcester Vases and Covers of extraordinary quality, hexagonal; the panels painted alternately with flowers, exotic birds and figure subjects in the Teniers style, in the finest manner and with rich gilding', (see the Object file, 1921,1215.1-165 in BEP). The price included gilt stands and a morocco case. A note on the invoice records: 'These vases were bequeathed by Lady Shelley, Widow of Sir John V. Shelley 7th Baronet with the Estate of Maresfielld (Maresfiield Park, near Uckfield, Sussex) to her nephew by marriage Count Alexander Munster'.
The vase has a companion piece (reg. no. 1921,1215, 2) which is similarly decorated with Flemish scenes, characteristic of the work of John Donaldson (1737-1801), born in Edinburgh in 1737 and working there as a successful painter of fruit, flowers, landscapes and figures around 1755-8. In 1760 he went to London staying at Leicester Fields until 1771 and exhibiting portraits and miniatures. Soon after 1760 a painter signing with the monogram JD was decorating porcelain for the Worcester factory; he is tentatively identified with John Donaldson, the miniaturist. Because of the style of the gilding, it is thought that the piece was decorated at the factory but no records survive to show that Donaldson was ever employed there.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1987 Jun 10-Jun 15, London, International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd, 'International Ceramics Fair and Seminar'
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number