Lot 257
  • 257

Elkington & Co ltd English A cloisonné enamel gilt brass vase circa 1876

8,000 - 12,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Elkington & Co ltd
  • brass, enamel
  • height 11 in.
  • 28 cm
impressed ELKINGTON & C0. and numbered 322 to underside 


J. Busch and C. Futter, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939, New York, Skira Rizzoli, 2012, pp. 44-45, 122-123.

G. A. Scala, Elkingtons and Electro: An Essay, London, 1876

J. S. Ingram, Centennial Exposition Described and Illustrated, Hubbard Bros., Philadelphia [etc.], 1876, p.415

Catalogue Note

Likely designed by the Albert Willms, a Parisian who led Elkington's workshop, Elkington exhibited this vase, together with its pair and several other examples of their  cloisonné enamel, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Strongly influenced by Chinese and Japanese wares in both technique and design, the crackles on the ground recall Chinese Ge-ware, whereas the songbirds and floral designs at the foot and rim display a European sentiment, creating a dense composition intended to appeal to a Western audience. The technique differs from true cloisonné in that the cloisons are not built up with thin wire, but through an electrodeposition technique more akin to champlevé, that creates depressions that are then filled with enamel.  The pair to this vase is in the collection of the Carnegie Museum (2008.32), illustrated J. Busch and C. Futter, Inventing the Modern World, p. 45.  

Ingram (op. cit.) noted that the Elkington enamels were superior to the Chinese and Japanese examples presented at the exhibition, commenting that "though also metal-work, [the enamels] were so gorgeous in colors and realistic in design as to approach ceramic productions. In the tall cylinders and vases, with the smaller flower stands and vide-poches, the natural colors of tropical birds and foliage were obtained similar to the ceramic productions, but with this advantage over the latter, that they are imperishable. Examples of this attractive ware were shown in the Chinese and Japanese courts; but the Elkington enamels, besides being more pleasing to the eye, were decidedly superior in manipulation."