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A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
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A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
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A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER

CIRCA 1755, IRON-RED ANCHOR MARK TO COVER

Details
A CHELSEA PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
CIRCA 1755, IRON-RED ANCHOR MARK TO COVER
Naturalistically modelled as a large nesting speckled mother hen with brown, grey, purple and pale yellow feathers, six of her chicks peeking out from beneath her breast feathers and wings, a further chick on her back forming the finial to the cover, the interior of the tureen painted with a spray of leaves
14 ¼ in. (36.2 cm.) wide; 10 in. (25.4 cm.) high
Provenance
Sybil Jessie Milbank (née Hughes) (1868-1956);
by gift or bequest to her niece Muriel Elsie, Lady Wake-Walker JP (1890-1963);
by bequest to her elder son Captain Christopher Baldwin Hughes Wake-Walker (1920-1998);
by bequest to his widow Lady Anne Wake-Walker (née Spencer) (1920-2020).

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

A fashion for rendering natural subjects in a particularly lifelike way was an important aspect of British mid-18th century taste, driven in part by a new interest in science and nature. The aristocratic dining-table of the period would have been a heady visual mix, a literal feast for the eyes, a game of trompe l'oeil that reflected both the season and the bounty of the gentleman’s estate. Cooked foods masqueraded as their uncooked ingredients, disguised in pastry, sugar and marzipan. The medium of porcelain was ideal for the purpose as in skilled hands it could be crisply and realistically modelled and the enamel colours could closely copy nature. Well-heeled British consumers had long imported Chinese porcelain for their tables, for which the Chinese made many novelty and zoomorphic wares. By the mid-18th century, the British were also importing porcelain from Meissen, which was among the first European factories to make trompe l'oeil dining wares in vegetable or animal shapes.

The Chelsea factory, established by Nicholas Sprimont, a London silversmith from Liège, was ideally placed to respond to the demands of the home market, a wealthy and aristocratic clientele keen to furnish their dining rooms with fashionable porcelain wares. The factory sold its products through London warehouses, china-men and annual sales. The Chelsea Sale of 1755, which commenced on 10 March, was conducted by Richard Ford in his rooms at the Haymarket. It was comprised of pieces produced the year before, including eleven 'Hen and Chickens' tureens with stands. The first (lot 50) was described as:
'A most beautiful tureen in the shape of A HEN AND CHICKENS, big as the life, in a curious dish adorn'd with sunflowers'.
Little is known about who modelled these incredibly lifelike porcelain sculptures, although this particular subject, the 'Hen and Chickens' tureen, was taken from the popular print of the subject by Francis Barlow (1626-1704). Although the print was first issued in the 17th century, this was the first time that the subject had been rendered in three dimensions. The factory also made other exceedingly ambitious life-size tureens and covered dishes, modelled in the form of an array of creatures, including ducks, pigeons, partridges, rabbits, swans, eels and plaice.

Surviving examples are rare and include:
Two in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (one without a stand, from the Arthur Hurst Bequest, C.195-1940; and the other, with its stand, from the collections of the 5th and 6th Barons Lilford, C.75 to B-1946). A third (with stand), formerly in the Gelston Collection, is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, C.3-1958. A fourth (with stand), in the Cleveland Museum of Art, a purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 1984.58. A fifth is in the Cecil Higgins Museum, Bedford; see F. Severne Mackenna, Chelsea Porcelain, The Red Anchor Wares, Leigh-on-Sea, 1951, pl. 39, no. 79. A sixth, in the collection of Lady Willoughby d'Eresby, at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, was exhibited and illustrated by G. Jackson-Stops, ed., The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985, p. 484, no. 421. A seventh, from the Campbell Collection, is now at the Henry Dupont Museum, Winterthur, Delaware; see D. Fennimore and P. Halfpenny, Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens at Winterthur, Winterthur, 2000, pp. 152-3, no. 82. Another example (with stand), was sold by Christie's, London, 8 December 2003, lot 12 (£223,600) and two (without stands) were recently sold from The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, Christies, New York, 10 May 2018, lots 623 and 624.

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