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New Acquisition: A Rare Delftware Posset Pot

Posset pot in the Geffrye's collection

English delftware posset pot, painted with the initials ‘SM’ and the date ‘1695’. Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

This delftware posset pot was purchased by the Geffrye in November 2014, with help from the Art Fund and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

It is made from tin-glazed earthenware, or delftware, with painted decoration in five colours. It is a significant object as only a handful of dated polychrome delftware posset pots of this period survive today.

Posset was a hot drink made from milk or cream curdled with ale or wine, flavoured with sugar and spices and sometimes thickened with bread or biscuits. This nourishing mixture was considered suitable for invalids but it was also consumed at celebrations and it is most likely that this pot, which is large and elaborately decorated, would have been used in the context of a social gathering. 

You can see the posset pot on display in our period room representing a parlour in 1695.

Art Fund logo April 2010 Arts Council logo 

New Paintings Displays

Domestic interior with a sleeping soldier, oil on canvas, 1860-1869, by Henry Nelson O'Neil (1817-1880). Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund

Domestic interior with a sleeping soldier, oil on canvas, 1860-1869, by Henry Nelson O'Neil (1817-1880). Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund.

We have recently redisplayed our outstanding collection of paintings of homes and gardens. These can be seen in the Reading Room and the 20th-century paintings area. Some significant recent acquisitions, including this painting by Henry Nelson O’ Neil, are on show for the first time.

This painting explores how events in the wider world, particularly Britain’s efforts to maintain control of a large empire during the second half of the 19th century, affected life at home. A young man can be seen sleeping while his mother looks on anxiously. Two travelling-trunks, in the foreground of the painting, provide clues to the narrative. The first contains a neatly folded military uniform and has a sword propped up beside it. The other has some lettering on the lid, partly cut off at the edge of the painting, which reads ‘…VI/[Be]ngal’, suggesting that the sleeping boy is about to leave home to join the 6th Native Bengal Infantry in India.

The redisplay of the two galleries was carried out with the support of the Birkbeck Alumni History of Art Society.

You can see more images of homes and gardens from the Geffrye’s collections on our website here.

Art Fund logo April 2010

Shipwreck Pewter

Pewter plates in the geffrye's collections

Pewter plates bearing touchmarks attributed to Thomas Curtis of London, c.1550. Purchased with the assistance of the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and a private donor.

In November 2013 the museum purchased these six pewter plates salvaged from a shipwreck. They were made in London around 1550, and were probably destined for Spanish colonists on the island Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The ship carrying them sank off the coast of what is now Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and the plates lay on the seabed for over 450 years before being salvaged in 2011.

Pewter made before 1600 is exceptionally rare but we know from documentary sources that the homes of the London middling sorts were busy with pewter plates, dishes and chargers.

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Replica Upholstery Project

Restoration image

Conservator Kate Kill working on one of the chairs / A joined oak chair, made in England in the early 17th century, with new replica upholstery.

Two seventeenth-century chairs with new replica upholstery have recently been added to our 1630 period room. Halls of that period were typically furnished with a variety of types of seating, often including upholstered chairs. However, no chairs from middling homes of this early date have survived with their fragile textile coverings intact so we have used specialist conservation methods to recreate what that they would have once looked like.

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