Chelsea porcelain vase

The two-handled pea-green ground Chelsea porcelain vase also now on display at the V&A.

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The style, a two-handled pea-green ground vase, features in the painting of Chelsea founder Nicholas Sprimont that the museum acquired last year (as reported in ATG No 2547). Both will be on show together in its British Galleries.

Both the painting (since restored and reframed) and vase (previously on loan at North Carolina’s Mint Museum) were purchased by E&H Manners at Doyle New York’s auction of the collection of Sarah Belk Gambrell in June 2021.

The vase had sold for a hammer price of $2700 ($3125 with premium) with the V&A paying an undisclosed sum to acquire it from the Kensington Church Street dealership.

Dr Simon Spier, curator of ceramics and glass 1600-1800 at the V&A’s decorative art and sculpture department, said: “The vase and painting help tell the story of innovation in 18th century Britain. It is one of a number of acquisitions of Chelsea. When these things come on to the market it is great to have an opportunity to acquire them.”

The ‘pea-green’ ground colour, imitating Chinese celadon wares, was an invention of the early Gold Anchor period (1756-69). The colour was promoted in the Public Advertiser in 1759 as ‘Pieces of the Pea Green and Gold, never before exhibited’.

English school portrait

The English school portrait restored and reframed at the V&A of Nicholas and Anne Sprimont and Susanna Protin together with five pieces of Chelsea ‘Gold Anchor’ porcelain.

The historically significant portrait depicting Sprimont (1716-71), the Huguenot silversmith who founded the Chelsea porcelain factory c.1745, was bought at Doyle for $35,000 (£25,360).

Henry Manners of E&H Manners told ATG: “The [South Kensington] museum is the perfect place for the vase and picture - local to where the vase was made in Chelsea. It is great for the museum to have a picture of a craftsperson with an item that they crafted.”

Among the V&A’s other recent Chelsea acquisitions was a ‘head of laughing child’ purchased in 2019, as reported in ATG No 2424.