In the ceramics world, a garniture is a set of vases unified by their decoration. It is thought that the first sets were imported from China more than three centuries ago. A fine example from about 1750 is shown below.
Chinese Export Porcelain, in the Famille Rose palette five piece garniture of vases & covers 1735 to 1760.
Garnitures were used for display above cupboards and chimney mantels. Below are two Victorian engravings illustrating their use.
Many British potteries responded to the fashion set by the Chinese porcelains. In well-to-do homes, garnitures remained popular for many generations and even into the 20th century, as with the Carlton Ware five piece garniture below from about 1913.
Carlton Ware c.1913, all decorated in the SEASONS 596 pattern, arranged as a five piece garniture.
The SEASONSpattern on the Carlton Ware shown above, as well as their shapes, were introduced by Horace Wain shortly after he began working at Copeland Street around 1911. The newly ensconced decorating manager was an expert copyist and keen on 17th and 18th century Chinese shapes and decorations, as well as those employed at Worcester, Swansea and Lowestoft potteries from the same period.
The popularity of the garniture was so long lived because shapes and patterns of its constituents changed to suit the fashion of the time. Ceramics played an important part in the decoration of most people's homes.
Below are two more Carlton Ware garnitures, this time from the 1890s or early 1900s. The first is decorated in the Imari palette on typical late Victorian shapes with their twiddly bits.
Carlton Ware from the 1890s or early 1900s, all decorated with the Imari palette and arranged as a five piece garniture.
The second set is decorated in flow blue and with what was called raised gold, a technique similar to tubelining but much finer. Little has been written on this elaborate method of decoration, so I will do something on it later in the year.
Carlton Ware from the 1890s or early 1900s, all decorated in flow blue with raised gold, arranged as a three piece garniture.
A temple to the garniture has to be at Charlottenberg Palace in Berlin, shown below.
Pity that it's not full of Carlton Ware!
The Porcelain Room at Charlottenberg Palace in Berlin.
Garnitures: Vase Sets from National Trust Houses
Currently (March 2017), the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London, in collaboration with the National Trust, have a an exhibition of garnitures from National Trust properties.
"Surviving complete sets are exceedingly rare and this display brings together sets from 13 different National Trust houses."
If you have a garniture of two, three or more pieces, or an interesting chimney display, please post it on your Social Media platforms! #GarnituresVaseSets #whatsonmymantel ❑