The Bicentenary Vase

Our focus of late has been on a small group of “to be put away” folio boxes, each holding bundles of out-of-sequence artworks – and some general Archive items too – which we’re placing back into their original catalogue locations wherever possible. It’s an ongoing behind-the-scenes project but one that throws up plenty of interesting material, some of which we’ve already shared through our Folio Friday series and in regular posts too…

In today’s post we’re highlighting a bundle of copy negative sheets which show the various design elements of Minton’s Bicentenary Vase. In 1993 Minton marked the two hundredth year since its foundation with a number of special pieces including one inspired by a particularly splendid vase that had last been manufactured for the 1878 Paris Exhibition. That piece had featured artwork by John Moyr Smith and was based on Minton shape number 1653 (also a Moyr Smith creation), and is described in the exhibition’s Estimate Book as:

Pa[inte]d Dancers etc by A Green after Moyr Smith in colour on gold ground. Col[oure]d & gilt Byzantine borders above & below Black border on s gold band at top etc

For the Bicentenary Vase Minton used the same classical shape – adding a plinth for extra height and stability – and took inspiration from the Archive’s collection of John Moyr Smith artworks for the new design, using both “A Lydian Ditty” and “Caryatic Dance” from SD 1705/MS1895 on the final piece. The copy negatives break this design down into its component parts, showing the outlines of the two Moyr Smith panels as well as the multitude of decorative elements that surround them. We’ve digitised the white-line-on-black versions for our online catalogue but the bundle also contains the original (black-line-on-clear) versions from which they were created.

Having checked the catalogue for references to this particular material it seems that it may never have been formally listed as part of Archivist Alyn Giles Jones’s work and so we’ll look to place it into the correct section of the catalogue in due course. However, the temporary lack of an MS number for these out-of-sequence items doesn’t preclude sharing them with you – especially as we’ll be back to update this post once they have full reference numbers! – so we’ve included images of the white-line-on-black copy negatives below.

03/12/2019 Update: These copy artworks have been added to the catalogue as SD 1705/MS6004.