- Museum number
Vase; porcelain; no cover; gilt-edged panels on blue ground depicting 'Venus showing Aeneas and Achates the way to Carthage' after a painting by Angelica Kauffman; other side with two horses and foal; two more panels on neck contain an eagle and doves.
- Production date
- 1770 (circa)
Height: 32.20 centimetres
Height: 12.60 inches
Width: 16 centimetres (max)
- Curator's comments
- Text from Dawson 2007:
The surface of this thrown balluster vase is almost completely covered with painted scenes on a dark blue ground, embellished with richly gilt decoration embracing a number of different motifs from scrolls to delicate leaves between the oval reserves on the neck and a curious pattern enclosing those reserves.
The main scene depicts 'Venus showing Aeneas and Achates the way to Carthage'. The story is from Virgil's Aeneid (1:304-405). Venus is disguised as a Tyrian huntress holding a quiver and wearing a spotted lynx fur. She directs her son Aeneas and his friend Achates (both shown in armour as Trojan warriors) who had been forced to land because of a storm at sea, towards the line of twelve swans and to carthage, home of Dido. Cupid, son of Venus, hovers above, about to appear in the guise of Aeneas's Ascanius in the story of Dido. In the foregroundon the vase are rocks and a stream, and behind the figures is a landscape. On the other side of the vase are three horses in front of a tree on the bank of a river with red rocks in the foreground, as on the main scene.
At the first Royal Academy exhibition in 1769 Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) entered two paintings, one of which was entitled Venus Showing Aeneas and Achates the Way to Carthage. This work, now at Saltram House, Devon, is likely to be the source of the painted scene on this vase (the author is grateful to Patriciia Ferguson for much information on the mythological scene on this vase).
The oval reserves contain a bird with outstreched wings on a branch, probably an eagle emblematic of war, and a pair of billing doves symbolising love.
The style of painting is typical of Jefferyes Hamett O'Neale (see no 40), who painted both figures and animals. His figure painting is generally superior to his representations of animals, although these are usually done in a bold manner. Here he depicts a complex scene on a curved surface, a skill he demonstrates on quite a number of Worcester vases. These were intended to be seen in sets of three or five, displayed on a mantlepiece or piece of furniture.
Mythological scenes are rare on English porcelain and occur most frequently on Worcester and Chelsea. A similar subject with minor variations can be found on a Chelsea Gold Anchor-period vase, only slightly earlier than the Worcester example and also attributed to J.H. O'Neale. The Chelsea vase, formerly in the Hurlbutt Collection, is illusttrated in Mackenna, 1952, fig. 58, as part of a three-piece garniture, and no doubt the Worcester vase was originally matched with two others.
- On display (G2/wp41)
- Exhibition history
2014 Oct 14 - London, BM, G2, 'Collecting the World'
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number