A CHELSEA PORCELAIN HEN AND CHICKENS TUREEN AND COVER
CIRCA 1755, IRON-RED ANCHOR MARK TO THE COVER
Naturalistically modeled as a large nesting speckled mother hen with brown, grey, puce,

A Chelsea porcelain 'hen and chickens' tureen and cover

Feature essay

Little is known about who modeled these incredibly lifelike porcelain sculptures, though this particular subject, the ‘Hen and Chickens’ tureen, was taken from the popular print of the subject by Francis Barlow. Though the print was first issued in the 17th Century, this was first time that the subject had been rendered in three dimensions. The factory also made other exceedingly ambitious ‘life-size’ tureens, including ducks, pigeons, rabbits and swans.


© Welcome Collection

© Welcome Collection


The other known examples of this model include two in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (one from the Arthur Hurst Bequest [C.195+a - 1940] and the other from the collections of the 5th and 6th Barons Lilford [C.75 to b - 1946]). A third, formerly in the Gelston Collection, is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and illustrated by F. Severne Mackenna, Chelsea Porcelain, The Red Anchor Wares, Leigh-on- Sea, 1951, pl. 39, no. 80. A fourth is in the Cecil Higgins Museum, Bedford; see F. Severne Mackenna, op. cit., pl. 39, no. 79. A fifth, 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 sixth, from the Campbell Collection, is now at the Henry Dupont Museum, Wintherthur, Delaware; see D. Fennimore and P. Halfpenny, Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens at Winterthur, Winterthur, 2000, pp. 152-3, no. 82. A seventh example, its sunflower stand retained, was sold Christie’s, London, 8 December 2003, lot 12 (£223,600).