Pairing Up, Part 9: The Moyr Smith Vase

Pairing Up is back and this time round we’re using the series to rectify a rather glaring oversight. You see, when we highlighted the Moyr Smith illustrations of “A Lydian Ditty” and “Caryatic Dance” in our recent Bicentenary Vase post we completely failed to notice that SD 1705/MS1895 also contains artworks of the original Moyr Smith vase which would later inspire its Bicentennial counterpart. We all have our off days, right?! 😮

Thankfully as well as being beautiful artworks in their own right some of these items also pair up quite nicely, meaning we can atone for such an embarrassing slip-up through the medium of the Pairing Up comparorama. So shame-faced are we, in fact, that for our first comparison we’ve pulled out all the stops – not only can you move the slider left and right to compare the images but, as they’re both super-hi-res, you can also zoom in and out too!

Zoom in and out with your mouse’s scroll wheel or by using the on-screen controls. Click and drag the image to move it around; click and drag the slider (<>) left and right to compare the two images. On touch-enabled devices drag the image and slider with your finger, and pinch to zoom.

In our second comparison we’ve overlaid the panel artwork for “Phrygian Chant” against the more finalised of the two vase designs. Whilst the similarities between the shapes and locations of the figures on the panel and the basic gold outlines found on the vase clearly connect these two items it’s not actually possible to fully match up the two artworks due to the cylindrical distortion on the vase design; being more centrally positioned the cut-outs for the vase’s main motif (actually visible on the left and right edges of all four artworks) are a much better fit, however.

Our last comparison is a rather tricky one as it comprises two very different views of a similar design element. Using the main vase artwork once again we’ve digitally overlaid one of a group of tracings from the same folio, though as you’ll see below only a small portion of the traced design matches up to artwork underneath (both in terms of content and alignment!). Which of the two best represents the final production is difficult to ascertain – in Minton: The First Two Hundred Years of Design & Production Joan Jones states that “attempts to locate the whereabouts of the original pair of vases […] were unsuccessful and […] the original moulds had been destroyed”.

Hopefully we’ve now fully redeemed ourselves for our moment of catalogue blindness, but just to be sure we’ve also scheduled a Folio Friday flourish of Moyr Smith/Bicentenary Vase-related goodness to finish things off next week 😀