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Hen and chickens tureen and stand

Porcelain and faience tureens in the shape of animals were fashionable throughout Western Europe during the mid-eighteenth century. This example rests on a large dish decorated with sunflowers, leaves, and other flowers. It was not modelled from nature, but based on a print made c.1658 by Francis Barlow (1626-1702). The tureen was made at Chelsea porcelain factory established in 1744-5 by Nicholas Sprimont, a London silversmith born in Liège. The factory made porcelain for the luxury market, selling its products through London warehouses, china-men and annual sales. In the 1755 sale, lot 50 on the first day was described as 'A most beautiful tureen in the shape of a HEN AND CHICKENS, BIG AS THE LIFE IN A CURIOUS DISH ADORN'D WITH SUNFLOWERS.' It was one of ten offered for sale, and a further four were included in the Chelsea sale of 1756. The English fashion for such tureens was short-lived, and very few examples of large Chelsea animal tureens have survived. The Museum is fortunate in having also a pair of rare fighting cocks, a rabbit, and a carp on a dish.