The National Cultural Heritage Account helped Sydney's Powerhouse Museum buy a historically significant Wedgwood Swan Vase.

1 February 2012

Wedgwood Swan Vase

The National Cultural Heritage Account helped Sydney's Powerhouse Museum buy a historically significant Wedgwood Swan Vase. Swan Vases are extremely rare and highly sought after, with only eight known surviving examples.

The vase was produced for display at international exhibitions in Paris in 1878, Sydney in 1879 and Melbourne in 1880. These events were held to showcase new developments in manufacturing, science and the arts. The 1879 Sydney Exhibition led to the founding of the Technological Museum, now known as the Powerhouse Museum. The Museum's first collection was acquired from the Sydney and Melbourne International Exhibition displays.

The vase narrowly avoided destruction when it was sent to Victoria as part of the Melbourne International Exhibition when its first home, the Powerhouse Museum's Garden Palace was destroyed by fire in 1882.

The vase demonstrates Australia's place as an emerging nation and the importance of the Australian market to leading English manufacturers in the late 19th century. It joins a small group of rare historical Wedgwood objects made for, or inspired by colonial Australia, such as the 1789 Sydney Cove Medallions made from Sydney Cove clay and the Australian Flora dinner services of the late 1800s.

The Swan Vase is a splendid addition to the museum's specialist collection of Wedgwood and Doulton ceramics. Standing 130cm tall and featuring ornate sculptural elements and hand-painted maritime scenes, this imposing vase is a tour de force of design and modelling from one of England's leading ceramic factories. The modelling of the vase is attributed to French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and the painted scenes are by noted ceramic artist John Holloway.

 Image credit: 'The swan vase', earthenware, painted by John Holloway, modelling attributed to Carrier-de-Belluse, Wedgwood and Sons, Etruria, Staffordshire, England, 1875.