Scent Bottles

Scent Bottles

1

The Gardiner Museum holds a unique collection of 107 scent bottles produced across Europe, with a particular focus on factories located around London where they were a specialty.

At a time when clean water was scarce and used sparingly, perfume was used to suggest cleanliness. Perfume was a symbol of luxury, a sign of rank and social distinction. In addition to being worn on the self, it was added to gloves, items of clothing, bed linens and cosmetics.

The Gardiner’s collection illustrates the range of playful forms that scent bottles espoused, including animals, flowers and figures of lovers. Some examples present multiple containers for different fragrances, small boxes to store beauty patches, mirrors under the base, and rich gold mounts that enhanced the value of the object. A staple of elegance, these little luxuries were appreciated by men and women, and were kept on a dressing table or in a pocket.

Scent bottles were a personal interest of Helen Gardiner who established the collection.

1. Exotic Bird (detail), England, London, St. Jame's Factory, c.1751-1754, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1005

2. Exotic Bird (detail), England, London, St. Jame's Factory, c.1751-1754, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1005

3. Wall Vase (detail), Austria, Du Paquier, c.1730, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1220

4. Sunflower Dish (detail), England, London, c.1755, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1108.1-2

5. Ewer and Basin (detail), France, Sèvres, c.1758, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G84.1.2

6. The Monkey Orchestra (detail), Germany, Dresden, Meissen, c.1753-1775, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.675.1-.18

7. Sugar Box with Armorial (detail), Italy, Doccia, c.1745-1750, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1105

8. Gardener with Watering Can (detail), Switzerland, Zurich, c.1770, The Hans Syz Collection, G96.5.421

9. Chocolate Pot (detail), Denmark, Copenhagen, c.1775, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.1104

10. Scowling Harlequin (detail), Germany, Meissen, c.1738-40, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.907

11. Teapot (detail), Germany, Meissen, c.1730, decorated at Lauche, Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.764