Display | Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 29, 2016

Five-piece garniture saved from the fire at Clandon Park.

Five-piece vase set, porcelain, China, ca. 1690, H: 26.9 cm; rescued from Clandon Park, Surrey, the night of the fire, 29 April 2015 (The Mrs. David Gubbay Collection, Clandon Park, Surrey, National Trust, 1440409.1-5 / National Trust Images/ James Dobson).

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Now on view at the V&A:

Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 11 October 2016 — 30 April 2017

This ground-breaking display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, organised in collaboration with the National Trust, explores the phenomenon of matching sets of vases and garnitures. In the 1650s, assembled sets of Chinese porcelain beakers, bottles, bowls, and jars—often in odd numbers—were used in elite European interiors as an integral part of the decorative scheme— displayed on chimney-pieces, cupboards, tables, or over doors. Specifically for the display, a mid-seventeenth-century garniture in the French taste has been recreated from Chinese porcelain of the 1630s. When imports of Chinese porcelain officially ceased between 1657 and 1683, European potters at Delft and Nevers copied the exotic Asian forms but unified the elements with matching patterns to form sets of from three to eleven vessels. In the Netherlands, merchants also ordered jars and beakers from Japan, and, in England, sets were ordered from London silversmiths. In France, merchants in luxury goods applied matching metal mounts to form sets from assembled objects and vessels. When the export trade resumed in the 1680s, ornamental jars and beakers with matching patterns were produced in Jingdezhen specifically for the West. The fashion continued throughout the 1700s, with almost every ceramic manufactory producing examples. It came to its conclusion during the Arts and Crafts period, when the singular vase became the rage and sets were broken up and dispersed.

A day-long symposium on ceramics and interiors is planned for 17 March 2017. The display, publication, and symposium are generously sponsored by The Headley Trust.

Patricia Ferguson’s blog entry on the display is available here»

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Patricia Ferguson, Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses (London: V&A Publishing, 2016), 64 pages, ISBN: 978-1851779000, £10.

9781851779000This exquisite book brings together some of the National Trust’s most important sets of garnitures, showing them in their historic context and drawing on their rich narratives. Following an introductory essay, the catalogue records the 15 garnitures in the display borrowed from 13 National Trust properties: Blickling, Norfolk; Dunham Massey and Tatton Park, Cheshire; Nostell Priory, Yorkshire; Ickworth, Suffolk; Kingston Lacy, Dorset, Stourhead, Wiltshire, Saltram, Devon, Clandon Park, Surrey, Scotney Castle and Knole, Kent; Petworth, West Sussex; and Upton House, Warwickshire (with more information here). The entries are richly supported by engraved sources, paintings and photographs of vase sets and garnitures in situ. As many have never been published before, the publication will be an important souvenir of a unique exhibition.

Patricia F. Ferguson, an adviser on ceramics to the National Trust, has been researching their ceramics collection for a publication on elite ceramic patronage in Britain. She has an MA in Chinese ceramics from the School of Oriental and African Studies and works as a curatorial consultant in the Asian department of the V&A.

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This 4-minute film showcases rare surviving examples of vase sets and ceramic ornaments from National Trust houses being displayed on furniture and in period rooms at the V&A that would have been typical at the time of their manufacture. Reino Leifkes, curator of ceramics at the V&A, discusses this ceramic phenomenon and its rise to the height of fashion.






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