The Warwick Vase, a colossal marble vase from the 2nd century AD, became one of the most celebrated pieces of antiquity. The vase, measuring nearly six feet high, was excavated in 1770 from a lake at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and acquired by Sir William Hamilton, antiquarian and Ambassador to Naples. It was later sold to the Earl of Warwick who installed it on the grounds of Warwick Castle noting: "I built a noble greenhouse and filled it with beautiful plants. I placed in it a vase, considered as the finest remains of Grecian art extant for size and beauty." Several views of the vase were engraved by G.B. Piranesi in Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi of 1778 and served as inspiration for silver and silver-gilt versions during the Regency period.
The arms are those of Windham for Sir Charles Ashe Windham C.B. (1810-1870). Charles Ashe Windham was born in 1810 and educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In 1854, he went to the Crimea and on September 8th, 1855, led the advance against the Redan. Windham walked through the gunfire uninjured and with a striking calm. The press took note of his bravery, Windham was promoted to Major-General, and when he returned to England, he received gifts of gratitude including the present vase.
The plinth is inscribed:
To Major General Charles Ashe Windham, C.B.
This vase is presented as a token of the great respect entertained for him by his friends in Warwickshire, and especially of their high admiration of those brilliant services during the Crimean War, which have not only secured for him the gratitude of his fellow countrymen, but won for him an imperishable name in history
as the hero of the Redan.
Engraving of the Warwick Vase, G.B. Piranesi, Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, 1778
Courtesy Art and Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library