An extremely rare and important Chelsea Vase, of very slender baluster form with graceful everted scalloped edge, beautifully painted in the Kakiemon palette, with the ‘Three Friends’ showing a pine tree and a prunus tree in full bloom beside a spray of flowering bamboo on which sits a blue pheasant, all issuing from a series of three banded hedges, the base with scattered single and stylised florets and stars.
Mark: Incised triangle to the underside of the base.
An extraordinary survival of a decorative element from a garniture or pair of vases, it must rank as one of the most important pieces of early Chelsea to have survived. It is almost certainly decorated by the same hand as the important sauceboat from Oliver Bowlby’s collection, now at Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the Mr. and Mrs S.J.Katz collection, (marked with a blue triangle), that is illustrated by Dr. Severne Mackenna, The Triangle and Raised Anchor Wares, no. 32. There are two similar vases illustrated, Mackenna, op. cit. no.33, the only others recorded, and also now in the MFA Boston within the Katz collection. These vases are marked with the same incised triangle but are painted with European floral sprays and ‘Peacock’ butterflies which hint at a slightly later date of execution during the ‘Triangle period’. Mackenna mourns the loss of these vases on page 81. ‘Alas forever lost to England.’. The only difference in shape to the ‘Riley’ vase is a series of apertures in the rim and bases of each vase, which may have been intended for the application of mounts or, as Dr. Riley remembers Severne Mackenna relaying to him, purely for single flower specimens. There is also a curiously shaped but related smaller slightly spirally moulded vase in the Irwin Untermyer collection, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, illustrated Yvonne Hackenbroch, pl.3, fig.5. This piece also marked with the incised triangle and more closely dated to the ‘Riley’ vase.