Earthenware vase, decorated in ruby lustre on a cream ground. The low-swelling body is shaped as a galley; its prow rises up as the arched head of a swan, while the stern curves over in the form of a fish tail. The sides of the galley are decorated on one side with two swimming dolphins, and on the other with a mermaid and an anchor. On the upper body of the vase are the painted figures of two sailors, one on each side, one rowing, the other accompanied by a dog and pulling up an anchor chain. The body rises into a tall, concave neck, which opens to a broad, everted rim; neck and rim are painted with vertical stripes and the inside of the neck is red lustre. The prow and stern of the galley rest on either side of the neck, forming handles. The underside is flat and fully decorated, with four wavy circles around Crane’s large monogram, crossed by three straight lines which curve up to the prow and stern. The vase is heavy for its size.
History note: Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read; purchased from Thomas Stainton, executor of the Handley-Read Estate
Purchased with the Perceval Fund and Grant-in-Aid from the Victoria and Albert Museum
Depth: 20 cm
Depth: 7.875 in
Height: 23.3 cm
Height: 9.125 in
Width: 24.2 cm
Width: 9.5 in
Method of acquisition: Bought (1972-10-19) by Handley-Read Estate
Walter Crane (1845-1915), was a wood-engraver, painter, illustrator and writer on art, an active socialist and the first president of both the Art Workers’ Guild and the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society. He was a pioneer of Art Nouveau style, inspired by natural forms, and designed dishes, vases, plaques and tiles for Maw & Co., Pilkington’s and Wedgwood. There exist other examples of vases with this design. In an 'Art Journal' article, 1898, Crane wrote: ‘I designed a set of vases for lustre ware, giving the sections to the thrower and painting on the biscuit the designs, which were copied on duplicate vases in lustre’. Maw & Company, established 1850, continues today as a manufacturer of encaustic and geometric floor tiles and modelled, tube-lined and other decorated wall tiles, using traditional craft skills and supplying some of the world’s most prestigious buildings. By the 1880s, it was the world’s largest ceramic tile company, producing some 20 million pieces per year. The lustred red glaze used here was also employed for tile painting.
( ruby red)
Neck Diameter 13 cm Diameter 5.125 in
Inscription present: painted between lines which intersect Crane's monogram.
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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Swan Vase" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/127133 Accessed: 2024-02-24 22:04:05
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