Item of the Month - In Depth

New In – An English Gilt Bronze Model Of The Warwick Vase c.1840

New in is an English model of the Warwick vase in gilt bronze on an antico verdi marble base and a silver liner. It measures: 23cm high x 30cm wide and dates to around c.1840.

The Warwick Vase

The name of the Warwick Vase is something of a misnomer, in that, strictly speaking, it’s neither from Warwick, nor is it a vase. Originally made for the Roman Emperor Hadrian, it was excavated in 1769/70 – in numerous fragments – from the site of Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, near Rome. The excavator was Scottish painter Gavin Hamilton, who had turned to dealing in antiquities to supplement his income as an artist. Hamilton sold the fragments to his namesake, Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador in Naples, who had it reconstructed at great expense to the designs of the celebrated engraver and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi (the work took more than two years). The Warwick Vase – named after the Earl of Warwick, who eventually bought it – became one of the most coveted objects in Europe. Indeed, when Napoleon was planning his conquest of Britain, he declared that the first thing he wanted to get his hands on was the Warwick Vase. Standing at ten feet tall, and weighing more than eight tonnes, the Warwick Vase is rather larger than your average receptacle for cut flowers. It was bought by the Burrell Collection in 1979, and now stands in the middle of the museum’s internal courtyard, where it shares space with sculptures such as Rodin’s The Thinker. Its sheer size and presence, however, means that the Warwick Vase always stands out: a relic of Ancient Rome, a towering achievement of marble carving, and the centrepiece of one of the Burrell’s most rewarding spaces.