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Hen and chickens tureen and stand: C.3 & A & B-1958

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


Hen and chickens tureen and stand


Factory: Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory




Soft-paste porcelain painted overglaze in polychrome enamels.

Soft-paste porcelain painted in blue, green, yellow, red, purple, purplish-brown, grey, and black enamels. The life-size hen has chicks under both wings and one upon the hen's back forming the handle of the tureen's cover (A), all painted naturalistically. The dish (B) is painted in polychrome with sun-flowers, other flowers, and leaves.


History note: Dick Gelston

Legal notes

Bequeathed in memory of Robert Gelston, Limerick by his brother Dick Gelston, 1957

Place(s) associated

  • Chelsea ⪼ Middlesex ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1958-10-16) by Gelston, Dick


18th Century, Mid
George II
Red anchor period (1752-1756)
Circa 1755 CE - Circa 1756 CE


Label text from the exhibition ‘Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 26 November 2019 until 31 August 2020: Many people kept domesticated poultry – chickens, geese, and ducks – for their eggs, meat, and feathers, for personal use or for sale. In Humoral theory, chickens were classified as hot and dry, which made them suitable for those with cold and humid temperaments. This hen-shaped tureen was meant to serve hot soup, but the soft-paste porcelain manufactured by Chelsea in the mid-1750s was not heatproof, which may explain the severe cracks in its base.

School or Style


Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( polychrome)
Hen Height 25.3 cm Length 34 cm Width 24 cm
Dish Height 7.1 cm Length 48.7 cm Width 37.6 cm

Materials used in production

presumed lead Lead-glaze
Soft-paste porcelain

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Soft-paste porcelain, moulded in parts, assembled, lead-glazed, and painted overglaze in blue, green, yellow, red, purple, purplish-brown, grey, and black enamels
Glazing (coating)

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: an anchor

  • Text: a red anchor
  • Location: Inside on the base at the tail end of the hen
  • Method of creation: Painted in red enamel
  • Type: Factory mark

Inscription present: circular white paper stick on label

  • Text: S & A M DUB/ART & IND. surrounding DTE/No and in pencil, 792
  • Location: On inside on middle of base
  • Method of creation: Printed in black and handwritten in pencil
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.3 & A & B-1958
Primary reference Number: 118354
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 16 March 2021 Last processed: Friday 15 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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