The Deccan silver-gilt service was a gift to Wellington (then General Wellesley) from the Regiments who served under him in 1803 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, in the Deccan region of India.
The idea of a gift was proposed as early as February 1804. At first it was intended to take the form of a gold vase. By late 1805, the decision had been made to substitute this for a service of silver plate.
Four different London makers were chosen because of their individual areas of specialisation: William Fountain and John Moore for the plates and dishes; John Edwards for the tureens (pictured) and decorative bowls, and, Joseph Preedy for the centrepiece.
The Saxon Service was made in Dresden and presented to the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo by the King of Saxony, Frederick I. The service features of series of pictorial plates that show scenes from the Duke of Wellington’s life.
This plate is of particular interest as it shows the Apsley House as originally designed by Robert Adam in the 1770s. The house was red brick (although it appears yellow here) with a simple, classically designed portico.
The area around the house is shown as if it was set in a country park rather than London. The road hardly exists and there are paths designed for horse riding which lead neatly into Hyde Park.
The house was built for the Lord Chancellor, Henry, 1st Lord Apsley (later 2nd Earl of Bathurst) by the most fashionable architect of the day, Robert Adam.
The plate is hand painted with gilded borders, the main border, like all the dessert plates of the service is decorated with a laurel leaf.
The Meissen factory near Dresden produced some of the most outstanding examples of European porcelain. The famous crossed swords logo is one of the oldest trademarks known. The Meissen factory exists today and continues to manufacture porcelain.
Dominating the dining room at Apsley House is the Portuguese Centrepiece, part of a 1,000 piece service gifted to Wellington in 1816 from the Portuguese nation.
It is one of the finest pieces of neo-classical silver in Europe and a unique design produced in honour of the Duke’s victory over the French in Portugal during the Peninsular Wars (1808- 1814).
It was designed by Domingos António de Sequeira, the Portuguese court painter. The service was made by men from the Lisbon Military Arsenal who had never produced such a detailed and delicate commission.
It took 150 men four years to produce. The plateau or base is decorated with mythological griffins bearing plaques above their heads with Wellington’s most famous victories of the Peninsular Wars.
Alongside these masculine symbols are dancing nymphs from the River Tagus.
The Portuguese silver gilt service arrived in London in 1817 in 55 crates.
Once opened it was found that there was some damage, Gerrard’s the famous London Jewellers were employed to repair the service which was briefly displayed to the public at their showrooms in Panton Street.
The centrepiece took pride of place at the annual Waterloo banquets held from 1820 in the dining room and after 1828 in the Waterloo Gallery.
This urn is part of the Prussian Service which was given to the Duke of Wellington by the King of Prussia after Waterloo. The whole service comprises 460 pieces and was made in the Berlin Porcelain Factory between 1817 and 1819.
The service commemorates all the Duke’s famous battles culminating with the victory over Napoleon in June 1815 at Waterloo.
The urn shows the Battle of Waterloo in 360 degrees format with the Duke of Wellington dominating the scene.
Wellington is shown, incorrectly, on a white horse to heighten the dramatic effect as he greets Prince Von Blücher, the leader of the Prussian Cavalry.
The Berlin factory were the leading exponents of these types of pictorial ceramics and in the years after Waterloo they produced some of the finest tableware which King William Frederick III presented to the nobility of Europe.
Decorative tableware like the Waterloo urn would have graced Wellington’s table as well as being put on display on side (or buffet) tables for his guests to admire.
In the 1840s special rosewood cabinets were commissioned by the Duke of Wellington to house the Prussian and other dinner services given to him by the crowned heads of Europe.
The Berlin Porcelain Factory (KPM) was founded in 1763 by King Frederick II of Prussia. The company logo is a cobalt blue sceptre which was stamped into every piece. The Berlin factory still produces porcelain today.
This Sèvres Vase is one of a pair on display at Apsley House where they have been since at least the 1840s. These two vases show the quality of the workmanship associated with the Sèvres factory.
Decorated with an image of a now extinct type of South African zebra called a quagga, the other vase features a gnu, and they were both taken from a series of aquatints that the expedition artist Samuel Daniell’s produced in 1799.
Daniells travelled to South Africa and his prints were widely distributed. Both vases stand on an ormolu (gilt bronze) foot by the celebrated goldsmith Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843).
Sèvres were the leading French manufacturer of ceramics and was founded in 1738 becoming a royal factory in 1759. In 1875 the factory was transferred from Sèvres to a new building, funded by the state, next to the Parc de Saint Cloud where it still stands today.