An 18th century casket made from fragments of Chinese porcelain has been bought by the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham.
It was acquired with the support of the Art
Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of The Bowes
Museum and joins the Barnard Castle museum's extensive collection
of European fine and decorative arts from this period.
The hinged rectangular porcelain and gilt
bronze coffer was formerly owned by the Duke of Lorraine - the
brother-in-law of the Empress of Austria, and governor of the
Austrian Netherlands at Brussels - and is cleverly made from three
different types of Chinese Kangxi porcelain, carefully cut into
sections and set into European gilt bronze mounts on a wooden
The central plaque is fashioned from a large
porcelain dish with its 'bird on a branch' motif set inside a
circular gilt mount.
When the duke died in 1780 the object was
sold at public auction in Brussels and in the 19th century was
recorded in the collection of the Earl of Lonsdale at Lowther
Castle in Cumbria.
It left Lowther in December 2011 when,
loosely catalogued, it was sold by Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh
It was later 'sold' to an overseas buyer but
the sale was blocked by a reviewing committee, giving British
institutions a final chance to raise the £193,250 asking price.
The Bowes Museum's keeper of ceramics, Dr Howard Coutts, said:
"The method of construction is almost unknown at the time, and
represents a highly skilled technique."
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