This remarkable vase is one of four designed by architect William Burges as part of the decorative scheme for the Summer Smoking Room at Cardiff Castle, the Gothic Revival house that is his masterpiece.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute commissioned Burges to rebuild the castle on a lavish scale, with work starting on the project in 1868. Burges modelled his scheme on a medieval chateau, and one of its most distinctive features is the Clock Tower which houses the Summer Smoking Room. Burges drew on the work of AWN Pugin for inspiration, as well as sources as eclectic as Islamic and Roman architecture and design. His opulent scheme featured vibrant interiors filled with coloured carvings, painted ceilings and accompanying furniture and decorative objects. The four tulip vases were designed to provide highlights in the corners of the highly theatrical Summer Smoking Room. This vase has four tulip holders around its neck and is painted with parakeets and blue scrolling foliage. Four oval coats of arms around the belly are associated with the Bute family and inscriptions around the neck and belly identify the date and patron. The vase is unmarked but may have been made by Maw & Co of Broseley in Shropshire (a company associated with Burges), and decorated by WB Simpson in London. Ceramics designed by Burges are extremely rare, and the local associations for this piece – where it formed part of one of the greatest architectural extravaganzas of the Victorian age – make it a superb and highly fitting addition to the collections of National Museum Wales.


Commissioned by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (1847-1900), 1874; by descent; the set of four vases removed from the Summer Smoking Room, Cardiff Castle by August 1948, after the Castle was presented to the City of Cardiff in 1947, and

Back to top