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2012/62/1 'The swan vase', earthenware, painted by John Holloway, modelling attributed to Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, made by Wedgwood and Sons, Etruria, Staffordshire, England, 1875, shown at Sydney and Melbourne international exhibitions, Australia,. Click to enlarge.

The Swan Vase by Wedgwood

Made by Holloway, John in Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe, 1875.

This well documented vase* is a tour-de-force of ceramic production from Wedgwood, one of England’s leading ceramic manufacturers from the mid 1700s. Modelled and painted by some of the best ceramic artists available at the time of its production, the vase was selected for Wedgwood’s spectacular displays in at least two international exhibitions: in Sydney in 1879 and in Melbourne in 1880.

Before he worked for Wedgwood, the vase’s painter, John Holloway, worked at the Minton ceramic factory, a...


Object No.


Object Statement

'The swan vase', earthenware, painted by John Holloway, modelling attributed to Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, made by Wedgwood and Sons, Etruria, Staffordshire, England, 1875, shown at Sydney and Melbourne international exhibitions, Australia, 1879 and 1880

Physical Description

A massive three-handled white porcelain vase modelled in lead-and tin-glazed earthenware with moulded sculptural components and hand painted decoration.

The body of the vase is ovoid in shape and hand painted, featuring three main maritime scenes, three floral motifs and a series of nautical and scientific motifs. The three main scenes are enclosed within three ovular white frames, while the floral motifs, situated between these scenes are also circled in the white frames.

The first of these scenes displays a group of large and medium ships sailing away from two figures in a small wooden boat. The second features two large ships in the foreground with others in the background. The ships are sailing away from the mainland, with the closest hoisting its sails. The third scene comprises a large floating lighthouse ship, with the letters 'GOODW' on the side. The lighthouse ship has three lanterns atop three masts. The second ship is being guided through the rough seas and heavy winds. The letters 'RE / 5" can be seen on the sails.

The vase has three curved handles, located above the floral motifs which are painted in a flower petal design.

The base of the vase consists of three white swans, standing back to back amongst lily pads, ferns and water plants, with outstretched wings and heads down. The swans stand on top of a tripod stepped stand, hand painted with seaweed and water plants. Above the swans, on a flat platform, sits a circular metal plate with a metal bolt, which the vase's body can be secured to.

The lid of the vase is slightly domed, and decorated with scenes of painted seaweed and water plants. It is crowned with a white cherub figure riding a swan, which is swimming in a blue pond.


The vase has impressed markings for the Wedgwood factory including a date code for 1875.



1260 mm


540 mm


540 mm



This vase was designed and made at Josiah Wedgwood and Sons in 1875. Modelling attributed to Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887) and painted by John Holloway (1875).


Holloway, John 1875



Exhibited in the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879 and the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufacturers and Agricultural and Industrial Products of all Nations in Melbourne, 1880-1881. A complete costing for production of the vase and an invoice for the Sydney exhibition remain in the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, England. A Swan vase was exhibited in the International Exhibition of 1878 in Paris (Exposition Universelle de 1878). The vendor acquired this vase at Davidson Auctions, Sydney, 24 April 2010, lot 342. At the time of this sale, neither its international exhibitions provenance nor the artists involved in its production were recorded.
The Museum acquired the vase from Alan Landis Antiques, Sydney, in 2012.


International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1880 1880-1881


Sydney International Exhibition (1879) 1897


Credit Line

Purchased with the assistance of the Australian Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account, Robert Albert AO, William Chapman, and Kylie Winkworth, 2012

Acquisition Date

30 May 2012

Cite this Object


The Swan Vase by Wedgwood 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 February 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=The Swan Vase by Wedgwood |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 February 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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