Sunday, August 10, 2008

Three Chelsea porcelain scent bottles

Chelsea factory, London, England, 1750s

The Chelsea porcelain factory opened in the mid-1740s. It was run by Nicholas Sprimont (about 1716-71), a Flemish Huguenot who had originally worked as a silversmith. Sprimont employed a number of talented modellers and decorators to produce work of a superb standard.

The factory produced decorative pieces for the luxury market, often copying designs from factories at Meissen in Germany or from Vincennes and Sèvres in France. These included miniature items, called 'toys' at the time, such as these scent-bottles, as well as seals, thimble cases, snuff boxes and other expensive trifles. Many have amorous or flirtatious inscriptions on them and were often bought as gifts.

The scent bottles are made of soft-paste porcelain, painted in overglaze colours and gilt, with gold mounts. One is decorated with playful commedia dell'arte figures: the Doctor, Clown and Harlequin, who hides in a kennel. The upper part of the bottle takes the form of a dovecote and a dove acts as the stopper. The base is inscribed 'stratageme d'amour' (subterfuge of love). The second bottle shows two doves touching bills and is inscribed 'imite nous' (imitate us). The third has two cupids lighting a stove and is inscribed 'mon feu durera toujours' (my fire will last forever).

R. L. Hobson, Catalogue of the Collection of (London, British Museum, 1905)

A. Dawson, Eighteenth-century English Por (London, 1987)

Height: 9.100 cm (128)
Height: 9.100 cm (128)
Height: 9.100 cm (128)

Gift of Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks

M&ME 1887,3-7,128, 141, 108

Prehistory and Europe

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