Plan your visit to CLAY, offering a seasonal menu of fresh local fare in one of the city's most beautiful spaces. Try our newly-launched spring menu today!
See an extraordinary spectrum of contemporary works, including vessels, figurative sculpture, and abstract forms in The Diana Reitberger Collection, on display in our Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Gallery.
Our new kids clay camps now include earlier start times, art-filled field trips, and fresh new themes. Register now for a summer of creative hands-on fun!
The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the most important specialty museums internationally. It houses approximately 4,000 objects, including European porcelain, ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary ceramics. Search the collection online!
Everyone can love clay! Become a Friend at one of the world’s great specialty museums and enjoy the benefits, including unlimited admission, invitations to exhibition previews and special events, discounts on lectures and clay classes, and more.
Despite early experiments, the first commercially successful production of porcelain in England did not occur until 1745, when the Chelsea manufactory was established in London. By the 1750s a number of porcelain manufacturers were operating in London, the Midlands, East Anglia, and the West of England. All English porcelain manufacturers were run as commercial businesses by entrepreneurs without direct royal or noble patronage.
Early English porcelain was “soft-paste”, low-fired, and made without kaolin. During the second half of the eighteenth century, manufacturers tried different formulas to prevent their porcelain from slumping during firing or from cracking when filled with boiling liquids—an essential requirement given the British love of tea. Bodies could include “frit”, a glassy compound made of a variety of different materials that were ground and added to clay; soapstone, which prevented cracking; and bone ash, which added strength. Eventually, kaolin was discovered in England and some hard-paste porcelain was produced.
The Gardiner Museum’s assemblage of English porcelain includes gifts made by many significant Canadian collectors including George and Helen Gardiner, Vernon W. Armstrong, Norman B. and Cicely B. Bell, Barry and Marjorie Pepper, and the Radlett Collection. It is the most comprehensive in the country.
1. Sunflower Dish (detail), England, London, c.1755, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1108.1-2
2. Sunflower Dish (detail), England, London, c.1755, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1108.1-2
3. Wall Vase (detail), Austria, Du Paquier, c.1730, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1220
4. Ewer and Basin (detail), France, Sèvres, c.1758, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G84.1.2
5. The Monkey Orchestra (detail), Germany, Dresden, Meissen, c.1753-1775, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.675.1-.18
6. Sugar Box with Armorial (detail), Italy, Doccia, c.1745-1750, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1105
7. Gardener with Watering Can (detail), Switzerland, Zurich, c.1770, The Hans Syz Collection, G96.5.421
8. Chocolate Pot (detail), Denmark, Copenhagen, c.1775, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1104
9. Scowling Harlequin (detail), Germany, Meissen, c.1738-40, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.907
10. Teapot (detail), Germany, Meissen, c.1730, decorated at Lauche, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.764
11. Exotic Bird (detail), England, London, St. Jame's Factory, c.1751-1754, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1005
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