An important porcelain cup and saucer from Admiral Lord Nelson's 'Baltic Service'An important porcelain cup and saucer from Admiral Lord Nelson's 'Baltic Service'

An important porcelain cup and saucer from Admiral Lord Nelson’s ‘Baltic Service’

£ 4,400.00


Circa 1802




The cup height: 2¼ in (5.5cm) Width: 4in (10cm) Diameter: 3in (7.6cm)
The saucer diameter: 5in (12.5cm)

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Both pieces are delicately painted in underglaze blues and greens with over glaze hand gilding.  Each has a border of oak leaves and gilded acorns, a central fouled anchor within a victor’s laurel wreath and gilt borders.  The gilt inscriptions state ‘Nelson 2nd April Baltic’, ’15th Febry, ‘San Joseph’, and ‘Glorious 1st August’.  The saucer has two additional oak leaf reserves with banderols inscribed ‘Nelson San Joseph’ and ‘Nelson Aboukir’.  Circa 1802. 

The saucer diameter: 5in (12.5cm)  

Provenance: Contents of Bixley Manor by instruction of the executors of Sir Timothy Colman KG.

With a copy of the purchase receipt from Mortlock’s Ltd., dated August 1895.

The various Baltic and Nelson Services were presumably created in some haste ahead of the Lord Mayor’s inauguration, and it is likely that the London decorating workshop responsible used the only blank porcelain available to them, a mixture of Coalport and Paris porcelain.  The assemblage must have been very large as Nelson divided the amount between various relatives almost immediately.  One Baltic Set tea service was delivered to Merton, the house Nelson shared with Emma and is listed in the 1805 inventory.  Another, slightly larger, set belonged to Nelson’s sister, Catherine ‘Kitty’ Matcham, and this featured in Sotheby’s sale of ‘Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars, including The Matcham Collection’, 5th October 2005, lot 22.  It is conceivable her Baltic tea set had also been passed on to her by her brother because it was surplus to Nelson’s needs.  More of the set was given to Nelson’s brother, William.  William married Hilare Barlow, the daughter of Admiral Sir Robert Barlow GBC, in March 1829.

Porcelain from both the Nelson and the Baltic Services was inherited by Nelson’s niece, Charlotte Nelson, Duchess of Bronte.  Her son Alexander, from her marriage to Samuel Hood, Baron Bridport, inherited the majority of these pieces, many of which appeared in his sale at Christie’s in July 1895 and would explain the date of the Mortlock’s invoice.  Other pieces are in the Nelson-Ward Collection bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, in 1946 by the grandson of Horatia, Nelson and Emma Hamilton’s daughter.

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