One of my passions in life is to visit museums. Of course I like the large museums with their vast collections, but the small private museums are often real gems.
The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is a museum opened by George and Helen Gardiner to house their large collection of ancient American artifacts, Chinese porcelain and European pottery and porcelain.
George, a stockbroker, lawyer, art collector and philanthropist began collecting ceramics in 1976 to decorate his home. His wife, Helen shared his interest and their collection grew substantially. The collection has more than 3,000 historical and contemporary pieces and gives you an understanding of the development of the ceramic process, decoration and shape.
The Museum has become an important centre for ceramics in North America.
The soup tureen pictured above is from Meissen, Germany ca. 1761, part of the 975-piece service designed by Frederick the Great of Prussia and presented by him to Field Marshall Möllendorf for his services during the Seven Years' War. It is made from hard-paste porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilding.
The ewer and basin pictured below made at Sèvres, France in 1757, is soft-paste porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilding. Warm, scented water flowed from this elegant ewer into the basin formed of overlapping water lily pads.
Pictured below is a tureen from the Russian Imperial Service, Vienna Austria, DuPaquier factory ca. 1730-35, hard-paste porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilding. This is part of a magnificent table service given by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI as a diplomatic gift to Anna Ivanovna Czarina of Russia.
If you're coming to Toronto, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art is worth a visit.