Matthew Boulton (Birmingham 1728 - Birmingham 1809)
A blue-john oviform perfume burner and cover mounted in ormolu with pineapple finial, resting on three kneeling griffons and with swagged foliate garlands by Matthew Boulton (Birmingham 1728 - Birmingham 1809). An important blue-john oviform perfume burner and cover mounted in ormolu , the rim cast and chased with beadwork and foliage and with pineapple finial, raised on an urn and inverted trumpet shaped central pillar flanked by three kneeling griffons with their heads resting on the lower part on a trefoil-shaped giltmetal waisted concave platform mounted with finely chased swagged foliate garlands.
56.00 cm (H)41.00 cm (W)Order this image
Hinton Ampner, Hampshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
'Griffin Vase' purfume burner, fluorspar (Blue john) with gilt-bronze (ormolu) mounts, made in the workshop of Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and John Fothergill (1728-1782), after a design by Sir William Chambers (1722-96), Birmingham, England, about1770-71.
A George III ormolu mounted blue john ‘Griffin vase’ perfume-burner by Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and John Fothergill (1728-1782), after a design by Sir William Chambers (1722-96), circa 1770-71, of ovoid form, with a berried pineapple finial above a pierced neck cast with ovoloes and foliage supported on the heads of three griffins flanking a facetted hexagonal baluster support on a flared socle and a concave-sided triform base with an egg and dart border and with laurel swags; lining now lacking; originally with three candlebranches Provenance: By repute from the Earl of Lonsdale’s Collection, Lowther Castle, Cumbria: Acquired by Ralph Dutton, later Lord Sherborne, in the 1930’s. Exhibited: Jackson-Stops, ed.,The Treasure Houses of Britain: 500 Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, 3rd November 1985-13th April 1986, National Gallery of Arts, Washington D.C. Literature: G. Jackson-Stops, ed.,The Treasure Houses of Britain, Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting, New Haven and London, 1985, no. 271, illustrated p. 345. Comparative Literature: Goodison, Ormolu, The Work of Matthew Boulton, 1974, London, pp. 157-158, figs. 89 and 93. Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, 2002, London, plates 48 & 49, p. 86, plates 336, 337, 338, pp. 334-336 Goodison, 'William Chambers's Furniture',Furniture History, 1990, vol. XXVI, p. 67-89. Shena Mason, Matthew Boulton Selling What the World Desires, Yale University Press, Exhibition catalogue Gas Hall Gallery, May-September 2009. Although there is no sketch or design exactly corresponding to this rare model of a laurel-festooned griffin perfume-burner, it corresponds in part to eight vases that were included in Matthew Boulton's first sale at Christie's in 1771, known as a ‘Griffin Vase’. The sale catalogue description of 'radix amethysti and or moulu, lined with silver and perferated for essence, supported by three griffins upon a round pedestal of the same materials, the whole in the antique taste’. This corresponds to the vase illustrated by Goodison, op. cit., plate 336, p. 334 (sold Sothebys, New York, 21st November 1981, lot 150, now in the Gerstenfeld Collection) (fig. 10). This model depicting griffins draped in laurel swags relates to a candlestick, possibly one of the 'modells' lent by Sir William Chambers to Boulton in 1770. There exists a letter from Chambers to Boulton in around 1773, asking for the return of a ‘griffin model’, amongst other pieces. In Chamber’s celebrated Treatise on Civil Architecture, 3rd. ed.,1791 (Goodison, op. cit, p. 86, pl. 48), a model for a griffin candlestick is illustrated (fig. 11). Furthermore, there is a sketch by John Yenn (d. 1821), in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, who served as Chambers's assistant and pupil from 1764 to 1771. The sketch depicts a much earlier version of this design with minor variations such as the decoration of the plinth (see pl. 49, p. 86) (fig. 12). Also the wings of the griffin on the design are depicted upwards and not downwards as on the present model. The garlands that hang across each griffin's shoulders and chest are reflected in Chambers' designs for the pair of 'Kings' candle vases from the Royal Garniture executed by Matthew Boulton from 1770-71 and now at Windsor Castle (illustrated by N. Goodison, 'William Chambers's Furniture', Furniture History, 1990, vol. XXVI, p. 67-89). On the Hinton Ampner perfume burner there is evidence of filled holes in the body and on the top of the griffin’s head which would have supported candlebranches and it is possible that the branches were similar in style to those on the ‘Persian vase’ illustrated by Goodison op. cit., 2002, plate 351, p. 348. It is worthwhile noting that the pierced neck with beading, the finial and the ovoid body, together with the hexagonal column supporting it and the decoration of the upper surface of the triform plinth are very similar to those on this perfume burner. A pair of these ‘Persian vases’ were purchased by Sir Lawrence Dundas, and are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (fig. 13). Furthermore, the columnar stem reflects a drawing by Chambers in his ‘Franco-Italian’ sketchbook (see V & A Museum Department of Prints and Drawings, 5712). Seven of the eight perfume-burners sold at prices of between £11 0s.6d. and £15 4s. 6d. with Lady Godolphin and Colonel William amongst the buyers. The eighth unsold vase was probably that recorded to have been sent to Amsterdam by William Matthews, Boulton's London banker. Several examples of this model are recorded including: -one belonging to Sir John Griffin Griffin purchased for £10 20s 0d in December 1771. -a ‘small’ one in the Christie’s sale in 1772. -a pair of griffin vases with stone bodies listed among the stock in 1782 as a ‘griffin or moulu essence vase, white marble, and three round stone plinths for griffin vases’ -a larger version raised on an inward curved tripartite base, circa 1770-71, illustrated by J. Harris and M. Snodin, Sir William Chambers: Architect to George III, New Haven, 1996, p.162, fig. 242. -a further closely related pair was sold from the collection of John Villiers, Esq., Christie's, London, 16th November 1995, lot 3.
Lowther Castle,; acquired by Ralph Dutton about 1930-40.
Makers and roles
Matthew Boulton (Birmingham 1728 - Birmingham 1809)